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Sunquakes...are they a sign of an increasing solar cycle?

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THE FIRST SUNQUAKE OF SOLAR CYCLE 25: Twenty-six years ago, researchers discovered seismic activity on the sun. A team led by Dr. Alexander Kosovichev, then at Stanford University, found circular waves rippling from the core of some solar flares, like this:

Above: The first known sunquake, recorded by SOHO on July 9, 1996. [more]

They named the tremors "sunquakes"--much like earthquakes except incredibly more powerful. A typical sunquake contains 40,000 times the energy released in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. These solar seismic waves appear to be compression waves like the "P" waves generated by an earthquake. They travel through the sun's interior and probably recombine on the opposite side of the sun to create a faint duplicate of the original ripple pattern.

Kosovichev and colleagues have since observed hundreds of sunquakes. Not all flares produce them, which is a mystery. Moreover, the ripples behave strangely. A typical wave starts off at an initial speed of ~20,000 mph, then accelerates to a maximum of 250,000 mph before disappearing. No one knows exactly why.

"We have just detected the first sunquake of Solar Cycle 25," announces Kosovichev, who is now a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). "It rippled away from the X1.5-class solar flare of May 10, 2022." The movie below, centered on the blast site, shows concentric rings emerging from the turbulent surface of the sun:

Above: A sunquake on May 10, 2022. Dopplergram movie credit: NASA/SDO

When Kosovichev discovered sunquakes in 1996, he stretched the images fourfold to highlight the ripples for press releases. This week's sunquake he has left in its raw form--not quite as easy to see, but just as impressive for a different reason. "I wanted people to appreciate how the ripples are nearly overwhelmed by turbulence," he explains. "This is why it took us so long to discover them."

Solar Cycle 25 is intensifying rapidly and many more sunquakes are in the offing. The mysterious ripples could teach researchers a great deal about the magnetic underpinnings of sunspots and how they produce the strongest flares. "We are ready to learn," says Kosovichev. Let the tremors begin.

First of all I never knew this was a thing... second of all....What do these sunquakes mean? Like do they mean an intense solar cycle is going to happen? I know we don't know much about these but what do they signify? Do they signify an increase in solar activity?

This is kind of uncanny to me...

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The sun undergoes a roughly 11-year cycle in which sunspot and flare activity intensifies to a peak before falling again. Currently we are in the rapidly intensifying part of the cycle, which means we can expect more sunquakes in the next couple years. 


12673 of solar cycle 24 produced an X9.3 flare on 06/09/2017. 

Before this happened, they could measure several solar quakes in this region.

Serg Zharkov mentioned that these could be a sign of a much larger X-flare.

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I think all they mean is that there's more solar flares going on than years prior, not that they'll signal a stronger solar cycle.
Also, from the very little I've found when I searched "do sunquakes lead to strong flares" (which included this 2020 article from SciTechDaily), it seems like sunquakes could be related to stronger flares. However, it also mentions that about half of the medium-sized flares that were cataloged had sunquakes, so it probably needs more studying done in order to confirm whether or not sunquakes signal larger X-Class flares.

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Considering that they've only been known to science for about two cycles, I have a feeling that there might not be a lot of data about this phenomenon yet. We might have suggestions of what it could mean, but as always in all science, you typically need plenty of repetitive proof before you can say that there's a causal relationship between any two things. Sometimes two things can happen right after another merely by chance, and it can seem like they're related while in reality they are not. I've also just heard about this phenomenon for the first time. I had heard about moonquakes though, and I think they must be more similar to what we have on Earth. Sunquakes somehow seem quite a bit more exotic, considering what the Sun is made of. I'm just happy for the people in heliophysics now, I'm sure they'll learn a lot from this cycle again.

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