A solar storm is imminent, sinkhole in Kansas expanding.

Sun will flip its magnetic field soon

By Miriam Kramer

Published August 07, 2013

  • solar-max-polarity

    The sun’s magnetic field is gearing up to shift, a once in 11 year event, according to NASA officials. (NASA)

The sun is gearing up for a major solar flip, NASA says.

In an event that occurs once every 11 years, the magnetic field of the sun will change its polarity in a matter of months, according new observations by NASA-supported observatories.

The flipping of the sun’s magnetic field marks the peak of the star’s 11-year solar cycle and the halfway point in the sun’s “solar maximum" — the peak of its solar weather cycle. NASA released a new video describing the sun’s magnetic flip.

‘This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.’

– Todd Hoeksema, the director of Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory

“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal," Todd Hoeksema, the director of Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, said in a statement. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

As the field shifts, the “current sheet" — a surface that radiates billions of kilometers outward from the sun’s equator — becomes very wavy, NASA officials said. Earth orbits the sun, dipping in and out of the waves of the current sheet. The transition from a wave to a dip can create stormy space weather around Earth, NASA officials said.

“The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity," Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer said in a statement. “This is a regular part of the solar cycle."

While the polarity shift can stir up some stormy weather, it also provides extra shielding from dangerous cosmic rays. These high-energy particles, which are accelerated by events like supernova explosions, zip through the universe at nearly the speed of light. They can harm satellites and astronauts in space, and the wrinkled current sheet better protects the planet from these particles.

The effects of the rippled sheet can also be felt throughout the solar system, far beyond Pluto and even touching the Voyager probes near the barrier of interstellar space.

“The sun’s north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," Scherrer said. “Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of solar max will be underway."

The current solar maximum is the weakest in 100 years, experts have said. Usually, at the height of a solar cycle, sunspot activity increases. These dark regions on the sun’s surface can give birth to solar flares and ejections, but there have been fewer observed sunspots this year than in the maximums of previous cycles.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/08/07/sun-will-flip-its-magnetic-field-soon/#ixzz2bLctDzeD

NASA: Sun’s next magnetic flip is imminent

The sun is about to flip, according to NASA.

By Andrew McDonald, The Space Reporter
Wednesday, August 07, 2013

NASA: Sun’s next magnetic flip is imminent

 
 

 

The Sun is about to undergo a major transition, in which its magnetic field flips orientation; the Sun’s north pole will be come its south, and vice versa. This change in polarity occurs approximately every 11 years, and the next is no more than 3 to 4 months from now.

This polarity change marks the peak and midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, which began on January 4, 2008. The beginning of Solar Cycle 24 was signified by another magnetic phenomenon; specifically, the appearance of a high-latitude sunspot with a reversed magnetic polarity relative to equatorial sunspots left over from Cycle 23. Now, with the approaching polarity reversal of its entire magnetic field, the Sun is on the cusp of another, more major event.

The reversal prediction is based upon measurements taken by the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford University, one of very few observatories that keep an eye on the Sun’s magnetic field. The Wilcox Observatory has been obtaining polar magnetograms of the Sun since 1976, and has documented three previous pole reversals.

Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer described the polarity reversal process in a NASA Science News press release: “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.”

“This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system,” explained Wilcox Observatory director Todd Hoeksema. Indeed, the upcoming polarity reversal will have consequences throughout the helioshere, the domain under the magnetic influence of the Sun, which extends billions of kilometers beyond the distant orbit of Pluto and all the way to where the Voyager 1 and 2 probes are sailing towards the very edge of our solar system.

The effects of the reversal will be most keenly felt by the “current sheet”, a vast area of electric charge that extends outward from the Sun’s equator, where the slowly-rotating magnetic field generates an electric current. The current is quite weak, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter; however, the current sheet is immense, and the amperage runs through a region 10,000 kilometers thick and billions of kilometers wide. In terms of electrical charge, the whole heliosphere is constructed around the current sheet.

As the reversal transpires, the current sheet will become intensely wavy. Earth moves in and out of these undulations as it orbits the Sun, fueling stormy space weather in the vicinity of our planet. The wavier current sheet does better protect Earth from harmful cosmic rays, high-energy particles emitted by supernovae and other cataclysmic events in the galaxy.

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NASA Discovery: Fiery Sunspots Captured On Sun’s Atmosphere Like Never Before [PHOTOS]

Aug 07, 2013 09:58 AM EDT    | Jessica Passananti
Sun
A dynamic swirling mass of plasma is seen spinning above the Sun’s surface for over 36 hours on June 16 – 17, 2013, in this handout image provided by NASA. The mass was accompanied by two smaller prominences, which was also being pushed and pulled around by magnetic forces, according to NASA. (Photo : REUTERS/NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory/Handout via Reuters )

Big Bear Solar Observatory’s new Solar telescope captured unseen features of solar magnetism in the sun’s photosphere and chromosphere. 

According to IB Times, the detailed photographs will help researchers learn more about solar activity that could affect Earth and the satellites orbiting the planet. 

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Researchers using the BBSO, Big Bear Solar Observatory, observed thin magnetic loops on the sun’s photosphere, or first atmospheric layer. This image marks the most precise photo of a sunspot ever recorded.

The sunspot photo shows the sun’s umbra, or central core, and the surrounding penumbra, which is lighter in color. The image brings several features to light, including umbra dots, the core point in the umbra, as well as movement and patterns throughout the Sun’s atmosphere. 

The NST will soon be upgraded to eliminate any atmospheric distortion, thanks to the solar multi-conjugate adaptive optics system, which will be able to observe the sun in near-infrared light. 

Click here to see the detailed photos of the Sun’s atmosphere.

Sun’s Magnetic Field About to Reverse: NASA [Video]

Aug 07, 2013 08:14 AM EDT
Illustration of the fields in the corona

Illustration of the fields in the corona (Photo : Coronal_Hole_Magnetic_Field_Lines.svg: Sebman81/Sun_in_X-Ray.png: NASA Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres/ Wikimedia commons)

The sun’s magnetic field is about to turn round in the next few months, NASA said.

 

The Sun’s polarity changes every 11 years, when the north and south end change places. During this flip, the sunspots become fewer. A complete solar cycle occurs every 22 years.

The next reversal- in about 3 to 4 months time- marks a half of Solar Cycle 24.

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“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal," said solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

The period of high solar activity is called solar maximum. It is during this time that there is an increase in sunspots. The period of lower activity and fewer sunspots is called solar minimum.

“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," said Solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford.

                            Stanford.

                             

The “current sheet" is often talked about during solar reversals. This sheet is a surface within the solar system where the polarity changes. A small electric current about 10-10 A/m² flows within the sheet. The thickness of the sheet is about 10,000 km near the Earth’s orbit.

The current sheet becomes wavy during the solar reversal. As the Earth moves in an out of this sheet, it experiences changes in space weather, NASA said. A wavy current sheet will deflect cosmic rays- the high-energy particles that accelerate to light’s speed by supernova explosion. Cosmic rays are known to damage space probes.

Galileo Galilei, back in 1612, observed that the sunspots seem to move directly across the disk of the sun.

Sun will flip its magnetic field soon, NASA says

Miriam Kramer Space.com

Aug. 6, 2013 at 8:31 PM ET

Sun

NASA
The sun’s magnetic field is gearing up to shift, which happens once every 11 years, according to NASA officials.

The sun is gearing up for a major solar flip, NASA says.

In an event that occurs once every 11 years, the magnetic field of the sun will change its polarity in a matter of months, according to new observations by NASA-supported observatories.

The flipping of the sun’s magnetic field marks the peak of the star’s 11-year solar cycle and the halfway point in the sun’s “solar maximum" — the peak of its solar weather cycle. NASA released a new video describing the sun’s magnetic flip on Monday.

“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal," Todd Hoeksema, the director of Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, said in a statement. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

As the field shifts, the “current sheet" — a surface that radiates billions of kilometers outward from the sun’s equator — becomes very wavy, NASA officials said. Earth orbits the sun, dipping in and out of the waves of the current sheet. The transition from a wave to a dip can create stormy space weather around Earth, NASA officials said.

“The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity," Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer said in a statement. “This is a regular part of the solar cycle."

While the polarity shift can stir up some stormy weather, it also provides extra shielding from dangerous cosmic rays. These high-energy particles, which are accelerated by events such as supernova explosions, zip through the universe at nearly the speed of light. They can harm satellites and astronauts in space, and the wrinkled current sheet better protects the planet from these particles.

The effects of the rippled sheet can also be felt throughout the solar system, far beyond Pluto and even touching the Voyager probes near the barrier of interstellar space.

“The sun’s north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," Scherrer said. “Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of solar max will be under way."

The current solar maximum is the weakest in 100 years, experts have said. Usually, at the height of a solar cycle, sunspot activity increases. These dark regions on the sun’s surface can give birth to solar flares and ejections, but there have been fewer observed sunspots this year than in the maximums of previous cycles.

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramerand Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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  • Sun’s magnetic field about to flip, says Nasa

    , TNN | Aug 7, 2013, 01.14 PM IST

     
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    Sun's magnetic field about to flip, says Nasa
    “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.

    The Sun’s magnetic field – in which the Earth and all the planets are bathed – will do a 180 degree flip, Nasa scientists announced on Tuesday.

    “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.

    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. 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."

    Sun’s magnetic field “is about to flip", warns NASA

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    The whole of the sun’s magnetic field is about to “flip", according to NASA – with warning signs being spotted by observatories around the world this year.

    This “flip" happens every 11 years, and coincides with the greatest solar activity in the “cycles" of the sun, known as “Solar Maximum" – with sunspots and “coronal mass ejections" on the surface of the sun.

    “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 effects are so powerful they will be felt beyond Pluto – and may affect phenomena such as cosmic rays, which some believe can alter the climate on Earth.

    Scientists have recorded these “flips" for decades, but the process is still not fully understood. This particular “flip" has already puzzled scientists – with one magnetic pole of the sun appearing to flip “too early" last year.

                            [Related: First lab-grown burger “tastes like cake"]

    “Right now, there’s an imbalance between the north and the south poles," Jonathan Cirtain, a space scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center said last year. “The north is already in transition, well ahead of the south pole, and we don’t understand why."

    The flips, though, are regular. The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity roughly every 11 years – caused by the magnetic dynamo inside the sun reorganising itself.

    Magnetograms at Stanford’s Wilcox Solar Observatory – one of the few observatories that track the sun’s magnetic fields – 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."

    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 NASA’s 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.

    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."

    Wed August 7, 2013

    Video: Western Kansas Sinkhole Continues to Deepen

    A massive sinkhole in western Kansas continues to grow. The sinkhole recently developed in Wallace County, near the town of Sharon Springs.

    By the time it was noticed by a rancher, the hole was more than 200 feet across and 90 feet deep.

    The sinkhole has taken many by surprise, though not Rex Buchanan, who heads the Kansas Geological Survey.

    “Certainly, the location isn’t surprising. Wallace County has had sort of a history of producing these things, and I’ve been to some of those locations, so in that sense it’s not surprising," Buchanan said. “This is a pretty good-sized one, but the other ones out there are pretty good-sized as well. This doesn’t occur every day, but it’s certainly not out of the ordinary."

    Buchanan said sinkholes like this one are created by the dissolution of underlying rock deposits, such as chalk or salt.

    Some have suggested this sinkhole was caused by the removal of too much water from the Ogallala Aquifer, or perhaps the collapse of an old oil well. Buchanan says that’s not the case because the aquifer is not present in that location, nor are there any oil wells in the immediate area.

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