back to article Flippin' heck! Magnetic poles of Sun are gyrating: What Earth needs to know

Sun watchers at Stanford say our star is undergoing one of its periodic magnetic polarity changes, leading to a modest peak in solar activity. "It looks like it's happening right now in the southern hemisphere," Todd Hoeksema, a solar physicist at the university, told The Register. "The North Pole flipped in early June last …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting...

    All along I pictured it like bar magnets, I did not consider dynamic and multiple systems, and how these can "move" the poles. I knew there was a process for it flipping, but did not realise one can flip without the other.

    I guess it's like having a really long flexible magnet. You could bend it so each pole is closer or freely able to move relative to the other. Would that give a similar effect in a small scale?

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: Interesting...

      "I guess it's like having a really long flexible magnet. You could bend it so each pole is closer or freely able to move relative to the other. Would that give a similar effect in a small scale?"

      Not quite. The sun's magnetic field is really, really complex. What is generally considered north and south is somewhat like our Earth's magnetic field is, a consensus of tangles that approximate something like a bar magnet, but only really approximate it.

      Google sun magnetic field, then look at images.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I knew something was up…

    The Coral Coast net on 7060kHz has been up and down like the pantihose on King's Cross, as has the Queensland State WICEN net on 7075kHz for the last 3 weeks.

    Some mornings, propagation has been good up until about 8AM (UTC+10), then suddenly the band disappears, and stations less than 20km from each-other become practically non-existent. This is usually followed by some kind of massive rebound a day or so later with the higher bands being alive with activity.

    I've heard Japan a lot on 10m lately, and normally 10m for me is very quiet.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: I knew something was up…

      "I've heard Japan a lot on 10m lately, and normally 10m for me is very quiet."

      Maybe it's the x-ray events. We've been averaging one every other day for the past week or so.

  3. Ryan 7

    Of course it can't happen overnight...

    "night" of course being "when the sun is behind that big rock".

    1. Hero Protagonist

      Re: Of course it can't happen overnight...

      The "can't happen overnight" is referring to the Earth's magnetic field flipping, which has nothing to do with the position of the sun

      1. Denarius Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Of course it can't happen overnight...

        yes, it takes about 2 weeks according to rocks in NZ.

  4. William Boyle

    Neat, and thanks!

    My father was an astro-geo-physicist from the 1950's until his passing in 1991, with a specialization in the solar corona and interplanetary fields. He even presented a paper at the IGY (International Geophysical Year) conference in 1958 in Russia. I have preserved some of his awesome solar corona photos taken during a sabbatical at the Mees solar observatory in the crater atop Mt. Haleakala on Maui (1969-1970). Thanks for the reminder! :-)

  5. William Boyle

    And who'd of thunk it?

    Ironically, my father's sabbatical on Maui also coincided with another solar max period - no wonder the corona photos are so incredibly awesome! I'll have to scan a couple of them and post here for all to marvel. :-)

    FWIW, we spent a year in Britain in 1962-1963 while he worked on a Guggenheim fellowship there. I spent the year at Dulwich College (4th form), and got to meet, amongst his many friends in the physics and astronomy universe, people like Fred Hoyle.

  6. btrower

    What, no Climate Change angle?

    Somebody with the correct type of PhD and a few publications should put in grant requests to study the connection with 'Climate Change'. Do it as a joke and see if you actually get funding.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: What, no Climate Change angle?

      Already tried and dismissed.

      For over a decade now.

      1. Denarius Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: What, no Climate Change angle?

        unless you are a Russian meteorologist

    2. Blitheringeejit
      Mushroom

      The REAL Climate Change angle

      The sun is not the cause of climate change on earth - rather the reverse. As any fule kno, these changes in the solar atmosphere are caused by humans building lots of windmills, which are gradually blowing the corona away, and will eventually cause the sun to go nova on our ass.

      But at least when we go, we'll all have a lovely tan.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    " but actually we'd just experience a slight reduction in our shielding from solar winds "

    Which should definitely have an effect on cloud formation.

    For bonus points what is the effect it will have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: " but actually we'd just experience a slight reduction in our shielding from solar winds "

      More clouds, global cooling and an Ice age.. Ice age.. oh can I have my bonus points now?

  8. Encorespod
    Trollface

    But have the neutrinos mutated?

  9. PaulR79

    Satellites not likely affected

    I'd like to point out that if, in 100,000 - 200,000 years we're still relying on the same technology something has gone drastically wrong. I would hope that things are vastly improved so is mentioning current tech relevant?

    1. auburnman

      Re: Satellites not likely affected

      100,000-200,000 is the cycle time, not how long we have left. I believe current thinking is we are overdue for a polarity shift, hence the concern over the effect on tech.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Satellites not likely affected

        "hence the concern over the effect on tech"

        Oh no!! Magnetic compasses will no longer work!! Will anyone think of the children?

        1. auburnman

          Re: Satellites not likely affected

          "Oh no!! Magnetic compasses will no longer work!"

          Surely the needle will just point South (or South-ish) after the flip?

  10. lorisarvendu
    Happy

    You didn't know you were upside down...did you?

    A bar magnet's north pole points to Magnetic North. But since opposite poles attract, that means the Earth's North Pole is actually a South pole, and the South Pole is a North pole.

    :D

  11. i like crisps
    Coat

    Those Standford bods have got it all wrong !

    The North & South poles aren't 'flipping' they're just switching

    energy suppliers....They're very cost conscious on the Sun.

  12. RobHib

    Doomsday merchants will tell you this would mean the end of life as we know it,...

    Nevertheless, if the magnetic field were to flip 'overnight' many birds and other animals that navigate by the magnetic field would obviously likely die. Sufficient time for them to adapt is essential.

    That's not doomsday, just a fact.

  13. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Tom Baker wants to know

    if this will reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      "No, you idiot"

      yes, yes. I know. Pertwee, not Baker. Failed to edit in time. -1000 for me.

  14. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Dear Sir,

    Aiee!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021