Sun’s feistiness may determine lifespan at birth: study

By Mariette Le Roux ,AFP

PARIS — Could the Sun be your lucky �X or unlucky �X star?

In an unusual study published Wednesday, Norwegian scientists said people born during periods of solar calm may live longer, as much as five years on average, than those who enter the world when the Sun is feisty. The team overlaid demographic data of Norwegians born between 1676 and 1878 with observations of the Sun. The lifespan of those born in periods of solar maximum �X interludes marked by powerful flares and geomagnetic storms �X was ��5.2 years shorter�� on average than those born during a solar minimum, they found. ��Solar activity at birth decreased the probability of survival to adulthood,�� thus truncating average lifespan, according to the paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. There was a stronger effect on girls than boys, it said. The Sun has cycles that last 11 years, give or take, from one period of greatest activity or solar maximum, to the next.

Solar maxima are marked by an increase in sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections that can disrupt radio communications and electrical power on Earth, damage satellites and disturb navigational equipment. Solar activity is also linked to levels of ultraviolet radiation�X an environmental stressor known to affect survival and reproductive performance, possibly by causing cell and DNA damage, according to the study authors.