Your yellow Sun is about to flip out!

Every 11 years your Earth’s yellow sun flips out.

The Sun has an 11 cycle of building activity and then BAM its magnetic field flips places.

From NASA:

August 5, 2013: Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.
“It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of ‘Solar Max’ will be behind us, with half yet to come.
Hoeksema is the director of Stanford’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, one of the few observatories in the world that monitor the sun’s polar magnetic fields. The poles are a herald of change. Just as Earth scientists watch our planet’s polar regions for signs of climate change, solar physicists do the same thing for the sun. Magnetograms at Wilcox have been tracking the sun’s polar magnetism since 1976, and they have recorded three grand reversals—with a fourth in the offing.

Solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford, describes what happens: “The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle.”
A reversal of the sun’s magnetic field is, literally, a big event. The domain of the sun’s magnetic influence (also known as the “heliosphere”) extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field’s polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.
When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the “current sheet.” The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun’s equator where the sun’s slowly-rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current. The current itself is small, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter (0.0000000001 amps/m2), but there’s a lot of it: the amperage flows through a region 10,000 km thick and billions of kilometers wide. Electrically speaking, the entire heliosphere is organized around this enormous sheet.
During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy. Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball. As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.

Cosmic rays are also affected. These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy. Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth. The current sheet acts as a barrier to cosmic rays, deflecting them as they attempt to penetrate the inner solar system. A wavy, crinkly sheet acts as a better shield against these energetic particles from deep space.
As the field reversal approaches, data from Wilcox show that the sun’s two hemispheres are out of synch.
“The sun’s north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up,” says Scherrer. “Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway.”
When that happens, Hoeksema and Scherrer will share the news with their colleagues and the public.
Stay tuned to Science@NASA for updates.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Look! Up in the sky! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marcus de Alameda says:

    Very cool..I mean Hot
    Might climate change fanatics consider this as a possibility of irratic weather patterns here on earth..?
    new bumper sticker
    “Stop Sun Magnetic Field Flipping ….Now!

  2. Unwilling says:

    So the Sun’s magnetic fields serve to protect the Earth from cosmic rays flung by supernovas from light years away and that could harm human beings if not thusly shielded. Hm. And water, essential to biological life, loses density and rises just before freezing. Hm. And the eye captures and channels the reflective and radiant information of photons so that we can see things near and far. Hm. It’s enough to make you start believing there is a God!

  3. Robbie says:

    As a pilot, I’ve always had an interest in weather and what’s interesting about the sun right now is it’s fairly dormant in terms of sun spot activity. At the least, it hasn’t lived up to the activity scientists would expect with the phase it’s in currently. Some project the dormancy we’re headed towards could rival the Maunder minimum that corresponded to the mini ice age period. If that happened, the global warming crowd would have some ‘splaining to do.

  4. Fr AJ says:

    What would happen if the earth’s magnetic field flipped?

  5. Precentrix says:


    It does, periodically. I ought to know how frequently, but my brain is now full of other random things instead.

  6. Precentrix says:

    About every 200,000 to 300,000 years, according to NASA.

  7. Fr AJ says:

    Yes it has in the past I know; I’m wondering what effect it would have on our electronics today? Would it be similar to an EMP and fry everything?

  8. Elizabeth M says:

    Do you post these just to scare us into getting to confession?!

  9. teomatteo says:

    That “wavy, crinkly sheet” is gonna give me a bad hair day I just know it.

  10. Gregg the Obscure says:

    So the current conditions seem to portend well as to cosmic rays, but I wonder if the magnetic flip might be correlated with coronal mass ejections, which could be worse for us. Fire and brimstone on an unimaginable scale!

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    Gives one a right good sense of our smallness and God’s great majesty and power.

  12. NobisQuoQue says:

    And today is the one year anniversary of the landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover.

  13. jameeka says:

    Gosh, I hope the next 11 years are better than the previous ones..not sure I can go through another flip. Explains a LOT.

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    [Grouse, grouse, complain, sigh]

    The sun’s heliosphere reverses polarity roughly every 11 years. In the last 4000 yrs (roughly recorded language history), it has flipped 363 times. No one has died, no electronic were affected, not even compasses.

    The best place to look at the sun, in real time, is the solar and heliospheric observatory (

    Now, if the magnetic field of the Earth shifted, there would be problems during the shift, but once finished, well, do electronic run differently in Australia than the U. S.? Mostly, no.

    Cosmic rays? Not going to be affected, much.

    The Chicken

  15. Supertradmum says:

    This is not scary but fascinating. We have, obviously, as humans, seen all this before. The graphics in this presentation are great.

    As to the earth’s magnetic field flipping, it has done so before as well and for several years, NASA people have been predicting one soon. We shall all need new compasses.

  16. Kerry says:

    She lost my attention at “watch the earth’s magnetic field for signs of climate change”.

  17. kjh says:

    I think that if we all stand outside and hold a magnet up in the sky, pointed at the sun, all oriented in the same direction – we can stop this. YES WE CAN! :)

    And if that doesn’t work, just increase a tax on something or other…

  18. Cantor says:

    kjh –

    You forget… the motto was “CHANGE!”

    Guess who’s gonna take credit?!

  19. Giuseppe says:

    @Cantor – “Guess who’s gonna take credit?!?”
    I’m still waiting for someone to blame this reversal on Obama
    Or Pope Francis
    Or A-Rod
    Or George Zimmerman
    Or Michael Bloomberg’s limits on sugared drinks
    Or the internet

Comments are closed.