Powerful solar flares herald flip in sun’s magnetic field
2013 11 12

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

Tiny Micro Robots Build Things in ‘Microfactory’
2014 04 17
The teenie-weeniest robot uprising ever might be sooner rather than later due to the work of research institute SRI. Don’t let these microbots’ size fool you, there is power in numbers and thousands of the robots can work together to perform tasks at dizzying speed. From ReCode.net: SRI International has developed a new generation of ant-like robots that can work as ...
’We are not dead yet’: Heartbreaking text messages sent from schoolchildren trapped aboard South Korean ferry
2014 04 17
Passengers on board the South Korean ferry sent heartbreaking messages to their family members just moments before it sank. Children waiting to be rescued frantically reached for their phones as the boat began to list in a bid to communicate with their loved ones a final time. Twenty-four people, including five students and two teachers, have been found dead, but 272 are ...
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to "anarchy"
2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka: Come with me And you’ll be In a world of Pure imagination ...
Artists ’have structurally different brains’
2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found. Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate. But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report. As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online
2014 04 17
A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping. Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
More News »