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Mon Apr 30, 2012, 09:42 PM

Sun may soon have four poles, say researchers

Sun may soon have four poles, say researchers
source: Asahi Shimbun

The researchers...found signs of unusual magnetic changes in the sun. Normally, the sun’s magnetic field flips about once every 11 years. In 2001, the sun’s magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere, flipped to the south.

While scientists had predicted that the next flip would begin from May 2013, the solar observation satellite Hinode found that the north pole of the sun had started flipping about a year earlier than expected. There was no noticeable change in the south pole.

If that trend continues, the north pole could complete its flip in May 2012 but create a four-pole magnetic structure in the sun, with two new poles created in the vicinity of the equator of our closest star.

(more at the link: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201204200075)

Saw this last week, and didn't know if it was legitimate (since it had only been reported on that site)...but it was recently picked up by io9 (which, admittedly, isn't saying much). Still haven't found it anywhere else, but there was this article from a few days back on TPM, that might add some weight to it:

Scientists Stumped By Sun’s Asymmetrically Reversing Magnetic Field
source: TPM

The Sun’s magnetic field is reversing, South becoming North, as it does approximately every 11 years on a cycle, but this time, something even stranger is going on: The North is moving much faster than the South, and space scientists aren’t sure why.

“Right now, there’s an imbalance between the north and the south poles,” Jonathan Cirtain, NASA’s project scientist for a Japanese solar mission called Hinode, in a recent article on NASA’s website. “The north is already in transition, well ahead of the south pole, and we don’t understand why.”

Further, the asymmetrically reversing solar magnetic field could have an effect on Earth, resulting in increased solar flares and the accompanying bursts of radioactive particles called “coronal mass ejections,” or CMEs, that can hit Earth and cause brilliant Northern Lights displays and problematic geomagnetic solar storms, according to NASA scientists.

“This usually leads to a double peak in the sunspot number and CME rate as a function of time,” Nat Gopalswamy, a solar scientist NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in an email to TPM.

(more at the link: http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/04/scientists-stumped-by-suns-asymmetrically-reversing-magnetic-field.php)

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Reply Sun may soon have four poles, say researchers (Original post)
drokhole Apr 2012 OP
Warpy Apr 2012 #1
Baitball Blogger May 2012 #2
Confusious May 2012 #4
Baitball Blogger May 2012 #5
BadgerKid May 2012 #3
bananas May 2012 #6

Response to drokhole (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 11:08 PM

1. The earth's magnetic pole is also getting more unstable

and wandering around much more than we're used to.

We know that polar shifts have happened many times in the past. It would be interesting to find out that a solar pole anomaly like this affects the earth's poles in some way.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Tue May 1, 2012, 09:54 AM

2. I wonder why nobody ever considered that the dinosaurs died off because their environment

changed drastically from one of this pole changes?

We could probably adjust if the earthquakes and tsunamis don't destroy too many nuclear plants, but for dinosaurs, the change in atmosphere may have been too much.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #2)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:30 AM

4. why nobody ever considered that the dinosaurs died off because their environment?

because in the geological record there is massive asteroid sediment at the same time the dinosaurs died.

(In 1980, a team of researchers consisting of Nobel prize–winning physicist Luis Alvarez, his son geologist Walter Alvarez, and chemists Frank Asaro and Helen Michel discovered that sedimentary layers found all over the world at the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary contain a concentration of iridium many times greater than normal (30, 160 and 20 times in three sections originally studied).Iridium is extremely rare in the earth's crust because it is a siderophile element, and therefore most of it travelled with the iron as it sank into the earth's core during planetary differentiation. As iridium remains abundant in most asteroids and comets, the Alvarez team suggested that an asteroid struck the earth at the time of the K–T boundary. There were other earlier speculations on the possibility of an impact event, but this was the first evidence uncovered.)


Besides that, the only people who think the world will end if the poles shift is the woo crowd. As long as the field doesn't collapse, there probably wouldn't be any effect. If it did, we would all die of radiation poisoning and asphyxiation in, oh, a billion years or so.

Seems kind of a waste of time to go looking for a knife, when you got a smoking gun right in from of you.

On edit: after thinking about, we might not even loose the atmosphere without the magnetic field. Venus and mars have atmospheres, but no magnetic field.

The greenhouse effect on Venus is NOT because of the magnetic field.

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Response to Confusious (Reply #4)

Wed May 2, 2012, 08:31 AM

5. Thanks for taking the time to explain!

I knew about the asteroid theory, but I assumed it was just a theory. Hubby watches the science channels and I listen with one ear open. Hadn't realized that this has gone beyond theory.

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Response to drokhole (Original post)

Tue May 1, 2012, 10:55 AM

3. Look for the "butterfly" diagrams

to get a better idea of what's going on. See http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast15feb_1/

The diagram you want is this one:

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Response to drokhole (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 01:33 PM

6. They're going to land at night. nt

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