Implications of the recent low solar minimum for the solar wind during the Maunder minimum
To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/781/1/L7
The behavior of the Sun and near-Earth space during grand solar minima is not understood; however, the recent long and low minimum of the decadal-scale solar cycle gives some important clues, with implications for understanding the solar dynamo and predicting space weather conditions. The speed of the near-Earth solar wind and the strength of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) embedded within it can be reliably reconstructed for before the advent of spacecraft monitoring using observations of geomagnetic activity that extend back to the mid-19th century. We show that during the solar cycle minima around 1879 and 1901 the average solar wind speed was exceptionally low, implying the Earth remained within the streamer belt of slow solar wind flow for extended periods. This is consistent with a broader streamer belt, which was also a feature of the recent low minimum (2009), and yields a prediction that the low near-Earth IMF during the Maunder minimum (1640-1700), as derived from models and deduced from cosmogenic isotopes, was accompanied by a persistent and relatively constant solar wind of speed roughly half the average for the modern era.