Sun Ready to Flip Its Magnetic Fields

It's part of a regular 11-year cycle

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2013 7:34 AM CDT | Updated Aug 7, 2013 7:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Sun feel a little off to you these days? Congratulations on being finely attuned to the inner workings of the solar system. The sun is in the process of reversing its magnetic fields, and the full process should be complete before the year is out, reports Space.com. It may sound like a doomsday plot twist, but the reversal occurs every 11 years at the peak of the sun's solar cycle, explains the Huffington Post.

"The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity," says Stanford physicist Phil Scherrer. In fact, "the sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up." The peak of the cycle usually is associated with an increase in sunspots and solar flares, but this year's peak is relatively tame. The flip, then, should occur with most earthlings being none the wiser.

This blend of two images taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar eruption that occurred on May 12, 2013.
This blend of two images taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar eruption that occurred on May 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory)
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A NASA video about the solar flip.   (YouTube)

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