Video: The Sun reverses its magnetic poles

Dec 09, 2013
Image showing the sun's magnetic fields on Jan. 1, 1997, June 1, 2003, and Dec. 1, 2013. Green indicates postive polarity. Purple is negative.

This visualization shows the position of the sun's magnetic fields from January 1997 to December 2013. The field lines swarm with activity: The magenta lines show where the sun's overall field is negative and the green lines show where it is positive. A region with more electrons is negative, the region with less is labeled positive. Additional gray lines represent areas of local magnetic variation.

The entire sun's , flips approximately every 11 years—though sometimes it takes quite a bit longer—and defines what's known as the solar cycle. The visualization shows how in 1997, the sun shows the positive polarity on the top, and the negative polarity on the bottom. Over the next 12 years, each set of lines is seen to creep toward the opposite pole eventually showing a complete flip. By the end of the movie, each set of lines are working their way back to show a positive polarity on the top to complete the full 22 year magnetic solar cycle.

At the height of each magnetic flip, the goes through periods of more solar activity, during which there are more sunspots, and more eruptive events such as solar flares and , or CMEs. The point in time with the most sunspots is called solar maximum.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Credit: NASA

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
On Dec. 6, 2013, NASA scientists Alex Young and Holly Gilbert discussed how the sun's magnetic field is in the process of flipping.


Explore further: Physicists monitoring huge solar event (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physicists monitoring huge solar event (w/ Video)

Nov 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —The sun's magnetic field is poised to reverse its polarity. The effects of the event, which occurs every 11 years, will ripple throughout the solar system and be closely monitored by Stanford ...

Large coronal hole near the sun's north pole

Jul 20, 2013

The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image of a gigantic coronal hole hovering over the sun's north pole on July 18, 2013, at 9:06 a.m. EDT. Coronal holes ...

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

9 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

9 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

10 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...