Powerful solar flares herald flip in sun’s magnetic field
2013-11-12 0:00

By Scott Sutherland | Geekquinox



The dramatic uptick in the number of solar flares over the past few weeks, especially the powerful X-class flares, is a good sign that the impending change in the sun’s magnetic field is drawing nearer.

Our sun is a variable star. While some variable stars swing through active and quiet periods very quickly or very haphazardly, our sun works on a fairly regular schedule lasting about 11 years or so. At times like now, when it’s reaching solar maximum, its surface is typically dotted with a multitude of sunspots and it’s throwing off solar flares and coronal mass ejections on nearly a daily basis, and at solar minimum its surface is very quiet.

This cycle is closely tied to the sun’s magnetic field, which changes polarity on roughly the same schedule. At solar minimums, the magnetic fields running through the sun are roughly lined up, with a strong, well-defined magnetic north pole and south pole. At solar maximums, like now, everything devolves into chaos as the overall magnetic polarity virtually disappears, causing the increase in solar flares and eruptions. The polarity doesn’t just go back to the same direction at each solar minimum though, it flips back and forth between one direction and the other.

When the sun reached its last maximum, in a twin-peak from 2001-2003, the magnetic field flipped so that it pointed ’downward’ — with the magnetic north pointing towards the sun’s physical south pole — and it apparently touched off a period of unusual activity. By the next solar minimum, around 2008, the magnetic field strength only grew to about half of what it was during the previous two minimums. Also, the latest ’ramp-up’ towards solar maximum started late, the number of sunspots and flares is roughly half of what it usually is, and we have an even more dramatic twin-peak maximum going on.

According to what Dr. Ken Tapping, from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, BC, told CBC News, this is causing some concern — not that any of this poses any particular danger to us here on Earth, but simply because it would be nice for the sun to settle back into its typical rhythms.

"Obviously, we would feel happier if we saw the sun doing business as usual, rather than heading off into some territory where we basically are not sure we understand what’s going to happen," he said in the CBC News interview.

[...]

Read the full article at: ca.news.yahoo.com



READ: NASA: The Sun’s Magnetic Field is about to Flip










Related Articles
Largest ever recorded solar flare in history - The "X-Whatever" mega flare
Increased solar activity continues with multiple M-class solar flares (Oct 24, 2013)
Huge X-class Solar Flares Keep Erupting from Sun: 4 in 48 Hours!
New Solar Flare Packs the Power of Millions of H-Bombs


Latest News from our Front Page

The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
2015-03-03 22:14
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative. Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
USDA on board with shipping U.S. chickens to China for processing, then re-entry to States for human consumption
2015-03-03 21:32
“Chinese chicken” will soon have a whole new meaning, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here. Furthermore, the imported processed ...
Feinstein: Netanyahu does not speak for all Jews
2015-03-03 21:52
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “arrogant” man who does not speak for all Jews. The Jewish lawmaker made the remarks in an interview with CNN on Sunday ahead of Netanyahu's controversial visit to the United States. The Israeli premier arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday night ...
Netanyahu to US: Don’t negotiate ‘bad deal’ with Iran
2015-03-03 21:12
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the United States not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Speaking at a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, “We’ve been told for over a year that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a ...
School Textbook: “There’s No Such Thing as Reverse Racism” Only White People can be Racist
2015-03-03 2:14
Only white people can be racist. A school textbook teaches students that “there is no such thing as reverse racism” and that women can never be as sexist as men. The passage, which appears to be taken from a “multicultural education series” book entitled Is Everyone Equal, states, “STOP: There is no such thing as reverse racism or reverse sexism (or the ...
More News »