The magnetic field of the Sun is about to do a 180
Get ready, Earth!
When the celestial body’s
electromagnetism flips and changes polarity. According to NASA-supported observations, the complete reversal is expected to take place in the coming months.
“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal,” Todd Hoeksema, a solar physicist and director of Stanford
University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, said in a statement released by the agency about the effects of magnetic field of the sun to reverse.
“This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”
So should we be concerned
about the reversal of the magnetic field of the sun?
History says no.
While the field
reversal is a big event for the solar system, the change in polarity is rather routine. The magnetic field of the sun flip takes place at the peak of each
solar cycle every 11 years. Nearing the mid-point of the sun’s 24th solar cycle, the star’s south pole will soon follow the north’s lead and change its
magnetic sign. The change in polarity will have certain effects throughout the heliosphere — the sun’s domain, which extends well beyond Pluto — but, as
NASA notes in its ScienceCasts video, one of the largest effects Earth can expect is some stormy space weather around the planet. Astronauts in orbit may also
see some changes in cosmic rays, which could be a potential danger. The 11-year cycle governs the level of solar activity on the sun. This year, during the
peak of the cycle when solar activity is the strongest, the flip will be accompanied by increased levels of turbulence, such as sunspots. However, as solar
physicists have pointed out, 2013’s cycle peak has turned out to be one of the weakest observed in the past century, with relatively minimal activity. Watch
NASA’s ScienceCasts video below for a thorough explanation of the magnetic field reversal.