This worries me.
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.
While I would prefer the sun to just keep on keeping on, I guess I can live with this magnetic field reversal since these guys seem sure it happens on a regular basis. This is what has me concerned.
“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.
What happens is the south pole doesn’t catch up? They’ve been studying this for what, a hundred years at most. This sounds a lot like “house prices never go down.” Remember, we still don’t know what killed the dinosaurs. Maybe the south pole was a little tardier than usual back then.
Personally, I would have preferred to have been told about all of this after things were sorted out.