Scientists Stumped By Sun’s Asymmetrically Reversing Magnetic Field

The Sun’s magnetic field is reversing, South getting to be North, as it does approximately every eleven years on a cycle, but this time, one thing even stranger is going on: The North is moving much more quickly than the South, and space scientists aren’t sure why.

“Appropriate now, there is an imbalance among the north and the south poles,” Jonathan Cirtain, NASA’s project scientist for a Japanese solar mission known as Hinode, in a recent article on NASA’s website. “The north is currently in transition, well ahead of the south pole, and we never realize why.”

Further, the asymmetrically reversing solar magnetic field could have an effect on Earth, resulting in increased solar flares and the accompanying bursts of radioactive particles named “coronal mass ejections,” or CMEs, that can hit Earth and lead to brilliant Northern Lights displays and problematic geomagnetic solar storms, according to NASA scientists.

“This usually leads to a double peak in the sunspot quantity and CME price as a function of time,” Nat Gopalswamy, a solar scientist NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in an electronic mail to TPM.

Gopalswamy and his team studied the Sun’s shifting magnetic field from microwave signatures obtained by Japanese radio telescopes and reported their findings in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal on April 9.

Gopalswamy explained that while the Sun’s shifting magnetic poles had been first discovered in 1955, the price at which the North and South wasn’t identified to be mismatched right up until the last number of solar cycles.

To be clear, the magnetic field doesn’t just flip, but rather, the Sun basically sheds its recent magnetic field and regrows a new one each 11 years. At present, the Northern portion of the Sun is more along on this process than its Southern counterpart.

Additional, the Sun’s oddly shifting magnetic field affects the Solar System, though it isn’t but known just how.

“Whether the north pole of the Sun has north or south polarity decides the entry point of galactic cosmic rays into the heliosphere,” Gopalswamy told TPM.

The heliosphere is an enormous magnetic bubble made up of the continual typical ejection of charged particles from the Sun. It stretches beyond Pluto.


Sources and more information:

• Hinode and SOHO paint an asymmetrical picture of the sun

Approximately every 11 years the magnetic field on the sun reverses completely – the north magnetic pole switches to south, and vice versa. It’s as if a bar magnet slowly lost its magnetic field and regained it in the opposite direction, so the positive side becomes the negative side. But, of course, the sun is not a simple bar magnet and the…

• “The Great Switch” – Sun’s Magnetic Field Does a Complete Reverse Every 11 Years

“The Great Switch” – Sun’s Magnetic Field Does a Complete Reverse Every 11 Years About every 11 years the magnetic field on the sun reverses completely – the north magnetic pole switches to south, and vice versa. This flip coincides with the greatest solar activity seen on the sun in any given cycle, known as “solar maximum.

• Hinode and SOHO paint an asymmetrical picture of the sun

• Scientists Stumped By Sun’s Asymmetrically Reversing Magnetic Field