Excite

Polarity of the Sun About to Flip Upside Down

  • Xray picture of the Sun

According to scientists from NASA, the star at the centre of the Solar System is ready to flip upside down as its magnetic field reverses polarity.

Nothing to worry about, this is a totally normal process that takes place approximately every 11 years and is therefore predictable. NASA, however, has not been able to give a more specific date, although scientists will know within the next three weeks whether the flip is complete.

Every 11 years, when the sun is at the peak of its cycle, the star's inner magnetism reorganize itself. How this magnetic shift happens nobody yet knows. What researchers do know is that during each 11 years solar cycle new polarity builds up, showing as sunspots near the equator of the sun's surface.

These sunspots are areas of intense magnetic activity that disintegrate within a month, with the magnetic activity moving from the sun's equator to one of its poles. Slowly, this migration of the magnetic field towards the pole erodes the pre-existing opposite polarity.

Scientists at Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory have been monitoring the sun's magnetic field on a daily basis, and this will be the fourth such shift to be witnessed by the observatory.

Professor Todd Hoeksema, Solar physicist from Stanford University, said that the polarity reversal would have "ripple effects" across the whole solar system. This will not bring any harm to our planet.

In fact, the only way the sun's altered magnetic field is expected to interact with the Earth's own magnetic is by increasing the number and range of auroras. Good news for those of us hoping to enjoy the spectacular show of northern lights.

VIDEO: Stanford Scientist Explains Sun's Magnetic Reversal: VIDEO

United Kingdom - Excite Network Copyright ©1995 - 2017