The sun is getting ready to flip upside down. This means it is very close to reversing its magnetic poles. As the Earth’s personal star endures this process, going from being extremely inactive at a solar minimum to its most active at a solar maximum, it goes through what researchers define as having a total makeover. When the magnetic poles change positions, this can cause effects which may rip through the entire solar system.
Scientists state that the sun, which is close to the peak of its present solar cycle, is just about to flip its magnetic poles once again. This generally happens about every 11 years. The present solar cycle which started in 2008 or 2009 is the 24th since researchers began keeping track of them back in 1755. When this one is compared to prior cycles, examiners have said that the current solar rotation seems to be weaker than ones that have come before it. In fact it may be the weakest in the past century.
While there is not a lot known about the true mechanics behind such polarity changes, solar scientists who are at Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory are making sure to watch the sun’s magnetic field closely, observing and gauging it every day, just as has been done since 1975.
The daily watching will allow scientists to be able to see the magnetic reversal when it actually occurs on the sun’s surface. This upcoming change in the sun’s poles will be the fourth that the laboratory has been able to view.
The sun’s poles actually are not north and south like on Earth, but should be considered more like positive and negative. The Earth’s personal star has a lot of smaller magnetic fields all over its surface.
When something like this makes the news, people on Earth might fear that they are in danger. After all, such a momentous event like a pole reversal might cause alarm in people who do not understand what is going on. But according to scientists studying the event, no one on this planet has anything to fear.
The same event occurred about 11 or 12 years ago, and the majority of people on Earth never even knew.
Pole reversal ends up taking place over time during the course of the solar cycle where sunspots come to the sun’s surface at about its equator and will move to its poles. Slowly, as the quantity of magnetism which arises with the sunspots moves toward the poles as well, it wears away the prevailing polar fields and switches them with the magnetic fields which have the polarity opposite.
What is being seen now is additional activity in the sun’s southern hemisphere. That is the pole which is about to switch at any time now.
The sun’s northern pole already switched over a year ago during the summer of 2012.
The sun’s two hemispheres are not in perfect harmonization with one another. Sunspots which come out can be different. So due to this, the sun’s newest polarity is usually different in the north and south in both strength and timing. This makes one of the poles alter its magnetic direction earlier than the other.
Because the sun has almost reached its activity peak, it has been thrusting out a lot of particles of energy all through the solar system by means of the solar wind. Because of such outpouring from the sun, the Earth is in fact being sheltered from high energy elements which come toward the Earth from other parts of the solar system.
Such measurements aid researchers zone in on where and what kind of solar action is happening on the sun and how it is ready to flip upside down.
By Kimberly Ruble