Sun's Magnetic Field about to Flip

As we know at Every 11 years, the magnetic field of the Sun flips. This powerful force that drive sunspots, solar flares and huge explosions of solar material, flips over, like a egg-timer being tipped on its head.

And it's happening right now..

It is carried out into space by the solar wind, a stream of particles emanating from the Sun. As the magnetic field stretches into space it creates a "current sheet" that extends out from the Sun's equator.

Inside the furnace that gives life to our planet, the incredible heat strips atoms into their constituent nuclei and electrons, which slosh around like water in an ocean. This "flow and turbulent motion" of charged particles creates the Sun's magnetic field, says Jonathan Eastwood, a lecturer in Space and Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London.

Sun-Like Star Flips Its Magnetic Field Like Our Sun: First Observation

Above the current sheet, the magnetic polarity is "North" and below the sheet it is "South". In simple terms, it's like a frilly dress of electrical current that stretches from the Sun's equator all the way to Pluto and billions of kilometres beyond, splitting the Sun's magnetic field.

Every 11 years, for reasons that are still unknown, the magnetic field flips. North becomes South and South becomes North. But the switch isn't as clean as a simple swap.
"At solar maximum, the magnetic field is just a big mess," says Eastwood. "Exactly how [it] reverses is still not well understood [but] what we can see is that the magnetic field becomes much more complicated".

Instead of a simple bar magnet structure, with a top and bottom, the magnetic field structure becomes more octopus-like, with many magnetic poles, instead of just two. During this noisy phase, the hemispheres do not change polarity necessarily at the same rate. As the Sun calms down, it returns to a bar magnet structure, but with the polarity reversed.
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Write by: RC - Thursday, August 8, 2013

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