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Hat tip to the The Huffington Post, a NASA pictorial, of the sun in active periods, with solar flares and winds. The sun is currently experiencing an unusually quite phase.
The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum - in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year - with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm, but are continually monitoring our closest star with an array of telescopes and satellites.
I can't speak to the significance either, but these pics are stunning. (One note of caution. If you want to look at the whole, magnificent pictorial in The Boston Globe, it may take some time to load the giant, bandwidth intensive images. It's worth it.)