Sun’s Magnetic Field Set to Flip, but Will Be Harmless to Earth, Scientists Say

Published:11:45 pm EDT, August 7, 2013| Updated:11:51 pm EDT, August 7, 2013|
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The sun is about to go through a major change, but scientists say we here on Earth have nothing to worry about, reports SPACE.com.

Over the next few months, the sun's magnetic field will reverse its polarity. The change, however, is completely normal and actually occurs once every 11 years. Scientists say that the effects of the flip will be hardly noticeable to humans at all and won't spark an increase in powerful solar storms or other events that could have a damaging effect on Earth.

"The world will not end tomorrow," Phil Scherrer, a solar physicist at Stanford University, told SPACE.com.

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The reversal happens at the same time the sun reaches its solar maximum, when sun spots and solar flares are at their height, and doesn't happen all at once.

"It's a long, slow process, and in fact it has already begun," Scherrer said.

The physicist said the sun's north pole has already switched its sign and that the south pole will probably do the same within the next three or four months.

If anything, the flip is actually beneficial. The reversal causes the sun's "current sheet"—an enormous surface that stretches out from the solar equator on which the sun's rotating magnetic field has induced an electric current—to become wavier. These new waves will better protect spacecrafts and astronauts against galactic cosmic rays, which are harmful to those not protected by Earth's atmosphere.

Not to mention the flip will cause some pretty cool auroras on Earth!

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