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The Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    August 5, 2013: Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun's vast magnetic field is about to flip.
    "It looks like we're no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal," says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. "This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."
    A new ScienceCast video anticipates the reversal of the sun's global magnetic field. Play it
    The sun's magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun's inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of 'Solar Max' will be behind us, with half yet to come.
    Hoeksema is the director of Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory, one of the few observatories in the world that monitor the sun's polar magnetic fields. The poles are a herald of change. Just as Earth scientists watch our planet's polar regions for signs of climate change, solar physicists do the same thing for the sun. Magnetograms at Wilcox have been tracking the sun's polar magnetism since 1976, and they have recorded three grand reversals—with a fourth in the offing.
    Astronomers at the Wilcox Solar Observatory (WSO) monitor the sun's global magnetic field on a daily basis. WSO home page
    Solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford, describes what happens: "The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle."
    A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event. The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the "heliosphere") extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.
    When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the "current sheet." The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun's equator where the sun's slowly-rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current. The current itself is small, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter (0.0000000001 amps/m2), but there’s a lot of it: the amperage flows through a region 10,000 km thick and billions of kilometers wide. Electrically speaking, the entire heliosphere is organized around this enormous sheet.
    During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy. Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball. As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.
    An artist's concept of the heliospheric current sheet, which becomes more wavy when the sun's magnetic field flips. More
    Cosmic rays are also affected. These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy. Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth. The current sheet acts as a barrier to cosmic rays, deflecting them as they attempt to penetrate the inner solar system. A wavy, crinkly sheet acts as a better shield against these energetic particles from deep space.
    As the field reversal approaches, data from Wilcox show that the sun's two hemispheres are out of synch.
    "The sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," says Scherrer. "Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway."
    When that happens, Hoeksema and Scherrer will share the news with their colleagues and the public.
    Stay tuned to Science@NASA for updates.

    The Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip - NASA Science
    Motomom34 likes this.
  2. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Methinks we need to send my blond cousin up there and fix it. She said she could go there at night and not get burned up.
    ETA: on a more serious note---there is some evidence that the polarity of the earth can/has switched.
  3. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    With the magnetic north pole moving forty miles a year, and increasing speed each year, it is an absolute certainty; I would think. What the long term ramifications are, is anyone's guess.
    (Sorry for moving slightly off topic of the original post.)
    Magnetic north shifting by 40 miles a year, might signal pole reversal | MNN - Mother Nature Network

    Magnetic north shifting by 40 miles a year, might signal pole reversal


    The magnetic north pole is currently shifting at a faster rate than at any time in human history — almost 40 miles a year — and some experts believe that it may be the beginning of a complete pole reversal, according to the Independent.

    The changes are beginning to cause major problems for aviation, navigation and migratory animals that use the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves. Some airports have had to change the names of their runways to better correspond to their current direction relative to magnetic north.

    The thing that really makes the pole's current movement so unusual, however, is the speed that it is shifting. In the last decade alone, movement has increased by a third, throwing off compasses by roughly 1 degree every five years.

    Scientists disagree on how a pole reversal would effect ecosystems around the world, but some alarmists warn of a planet-altering catastrophe, whereby earthquakes and monumental tsunamis threaten the Earth for decades. Though such radical doomsday prophecies cannot be completely ruled out, the vast majority of scientists are tempered by calmer predictions.
  4. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Understanding solar dynamics is way beyond my pay-grade, but it seems like this regular shift is a double edged sword - it may play havoc with communications, but the wavy current sheet provides better protection from those evil cosmic rays. I've never met a cosmic ray myself, but they seem a bad sort, from reading the article. Cosmic rays could explain some of my family members though (I thought they were just born stupid).
    Motomom34 and Yard Dart like this.
  5. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    They've used the Steens Mountains in Oregon to study this (from the past).
  6. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Mindgrinder likes this.
  7. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Bring it big giant gas ball in the noontime sky.
    Yard Dart, Quigley_Sharps and Brokor like this.
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Since this allegedly happens every 11 years or so, I guess it is nothing to get concerned over because I don't recall reading about the field flipping 11-12 years ago.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    i understand the only major effect seems to be Micheal Moore's head spins the other way while he spouts nonsense.
    BTPost and Motomom34 like this.
  10. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Michael Moore... I am still in shock that he was married.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  11. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    I find this very interesting. The weather this year has been weird. Some say it is because of 12/21/12 when things lined up then we got into alignment and now the jet stream is normal again. But then if the magnetic pole is shifting at 40 mpy then that is significant. I really find it all fascinating. Makes me realize that I am a very small thing in a very big universe.
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Oh, I hope he never had any children.... Spare the world and mini-Moore's and obese Genetics.....
    Motomom34 likes this.
  13. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Only movie I can ever remember walking out of and demanding my money back, was his "day after tomorrow." Junk science all the way through. And people believe that crap because they saw it in a movie, so it must be true....
    Motomom34 likes this.
  14. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Oh, you're saying you were THAT guy? LOL! :lol: I always thought people joked about demanding a refund to a movie they purchased...
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    If I ever feel the need to be preached at by green peace, I will join their fleet of dingys. Until then, I will not pay to have my mind abused in that fashion. (Or any other fashion).
  16. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

  17. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.


    I for one am very curious if anything is gonna happen with ISON.

    Not above my pay grade.
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