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Space & Astronomy

Sun's magnetic poles getting ready to flip

November 15, 2013 | Comment icon 7 comments



The Sun's magnetic poles are known to reverse every 11 years. Image Credit: NASA/Steele Hill
The Sun's poles will soon be swapping places as the magnetic field turns completely upside-down.
The change might sound dramatic, but the Sun's magnetic field actually reverses its polarity every 11 years. The event takes place at the peak of the solar cycle at a time when sun spot activity is particularly intense, leading to large solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
Astronomers have been expecting the reversal for some time but it still not clear exactly when it will take place. Back in August it was estimated to be within "3 to 4 months" meaning that it should happen before the year is out.

While the idea of a magnetic pole reversal sounds like it has the potential to be problematic for us here on Earth, the truth is that it is a regular event that will likely pass by, as it has always done, without incident.



Source: TIME | Comments (7)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by ancient astronaut 9 years ago
I thought this was supposed to be last year?
Comment icon #2 Posted by pallidin 9 years ago
Clearly, our Sun has a cyclic bipolar-disorder.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Zero Fox FK 9 years ago
Just happen already
Comment icon #4 Posted by Mentalcase 9 years ago
Doesn't the Earth do the same thing roughly every 11 years? Why is this number so relevant?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Aerosol 9 years ago
The earth does this randomly about once every few hundred thousand to a few million years, with the latest one is estimated around 750.000 years ago.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
NASA | The Sun Reverses its Magnetic PolesThis visualization shows the position of the sun's magnetic fields from January 1997 to December 2013. The field lines swarm with activity: The magenta lines show where the sun's overall field is negative and the green lines show where it is positive. A region with more electrons is negative, the region with less is labeled positive. Additional gray lines represent areas of local magnetic variation.The entire sun's magnetic polarity, flips approximately every 11 years -- though sometimes it takes quite a bit longer -- and defines what's known as the so... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
NASA | Alex Young Interview About Our Sun's Magnetic FlipAlex Young is interviewed about the current solar cycle and what a magnetic flip means for the earth and NASA's study of magnetic fields.Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight CenterSource: NASA Goddard - Multimedia


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