Science The-Sun-s-Magnetic-Field

Published on September 8th, 2013 | by Martha Kent

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NASA says that the sun’s magnetic field will soon reverse. Is it dangerous for us?

You have probably heard about the upcoming magnetic field reverse of the SUN. According to NASA, the phenomenon will happen in the following months and the effects of Sun’s reversed polarity will spread across our entire solar systems.

The-Sun-s-Magnetic-Field

According to Andrés Muñoz – Jaramillo, a scientist specialized in the study of the Sun’s magnetic cycle of the Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it is difficult to pin point the exact date when this event will happen. He believes that the sun flips his magnetic field at each solar cycle, and it is a special event that is felt throughout our entire Solar System.

First we need to understand the basics of this phenomenon: Sun, just like the Earth, generates a magnetic field of its own in a natural way. This giant solar magnetic field is the result of a plasma current that’s inside the Sun that makes the particles to travel from one pole of the Sun to the other pole. Every 11 years, the magnetic field strength decreases gradually to zero, and then returns in the opposite direction.

If the same event would occur on Earth at the same period of time, every 11 years we would experience a different north pole. In fact, the Earth’s magnetic field reverses, but more rarely, every 100,000 yeas. When this event happens on Earth, we enter the Ice Age. In the last 650,000 years, the Ice Age cycle happened 100,000 years and the previous two million years have been predominantly cyclical having a pattern of 41.000 years per cycle. About three million years ago there were no glacial cycles on Earth.

“It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal. This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.” (Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University.)

The recent observations suggest that the following solar magnetic field polarity reversal is imminent. NASA specialists announced in August that it will probably happen in 3 or 4 months. Muñoz – Jaramillo stated that this magnetic flip will not be sudden, but it will be an event that will take place gradually. Polar field strength will drop close to zero. Then, for a short period of time, it will flip from positive to negative. Then, eventually, the scientists will observe that it is constantly in the same direction and then they will know that the reversal took place.

heliospheric current sheet

Since the region that’s most affected by the magnetic field reversal of the sun includes our solar system, the effects will be felt widely. The new magnetic field will form a bubble around the solar system. This bubble is called heliosphere and it is an invisible surface that has an electrical charge. The heliosphere is extending along the solar system in a shape that resembles a ballerina’s twisted skirt, because Sun’s rotation makes the remote areas of the magnetic field to twist into a spiral. The Sun’s magnetic field flip will cause this “twisted skirt” (see the image above) to become more wrinkled. As a result, Earth to travel through this invisible area more often as it moves around the Sun .

Conclusion
The sun’s magnetic field flips every 11 years and it is a normal phenomenon that is not dangerous for humans on Earth. Some scientists say that during the magnetic flip we may experience stormy space weather surrounding our planet that could affect Earth’s climate for a short period of time. Cosmic rays will be also affected by this event, which could become dangerous for the astronauts and space probes. But here on Earth, we are perfectly safe.

image sources: www.nasa.gov, www.wso.stanford.edu/gifs/HCS.html


Tags: science, Space


About the Author

I am the senior editor for SciNotions and Coremic web magazines. In the past, I have also worked in various projects involving science, music, technology and gadgets.



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