Sun's Magnetic Field to Reverse: What It Means
The flip could come in the next three to four months, scientists say.
"This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system," solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University said in a statement.
Hoeksema is the director of Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory, one of just a few observatories around the world that monitors the sun's polar magnetic fields.
The sun's magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years during the peak of each solar cycle as the sun's inner dynamo reorganizes itself.
This next reversal—which will be only the fourth observed since tracking began in 1976—will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24.
During a magnetic field reversal, "the sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and then emerge again with the opposite polarity," explained solar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford,