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Sun now has only a south magnetic pole?

  1. Nov 11, 2013 #1
    Sun now has only a south magnetic pole??!

    This article in the popular press ["Strange Doings on the Sun", Wall Street Journal] mentions that the sun's regular oscillation in the location of its magnetic poles is now not synchronized, as it's expected to be. The sun's north magnetic pole has reversed to south but the south pole presently remains a south pole.

    What does this mean? What are the consequences and implications of this in understanding magnetism? Whether in an electromagnet or a permanent magnet, isn't it so that we've never observed a magnetic monopole, and, moreover, that it's not decided whether monopoles can exist? Yet now the sun is a monopole? I regret I don't know enough to ask a more penetrating question, but isn't this noteworthy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2013 #2


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    It's not that the Sun now has only one pole, but during this process of reversal of polarity, both the North and South poles are temporarily situated close to one another, at least according to this article. As the polarity reversal process takes several days or weeks to complete, it is expected that the two poles will eventually move away from one another.

    In a true monopolar object, there is only one pole present, not two different poles in close proximity.
  4. Nov 11, 2013 #3
  5. Nov 11, 2013 #4
    Noteworthy, I think so, but not historic. It seems the magnetic poles of the sun often reverse during periods of high sunspot activity....and there is quite a bit in historical recordings.... meaning a period when the sun is a bit more active and erratic. Some associate periods of low sunspot activity wtih cooler periods on earth, like 'mini ice ages' and the 'dark ages'.....a period associated with the 'Maunder minimum'. You can find explanations for those in Wikipedia for example if interested.

    There is a breif general discussion here:

    but for a pictorial overview, start at the top of the article and just check out the illustrations to get an idea of the composition of the sun.....I think much of it is plasma and so it likely has some charged particles drifting around...that constitutes a varying electric current so you automatically get a varying magnetic field. Earth also has internal currents...and an associated magnetic field.... but of course we are a lot cooler and our core less active.
  6. Nov 11, 2013 #5
    Little ice age - yes. Dark age? - I think not.
  7. Nov 11, 2013 #6
    Dark Ages is an historical period...and I think a reference top an increase in cloud cover and pestilence.....when much of the earth, especially Europe, was cooler by about two degrees and widespread famine resulted......
  8. Nov 11, 2013 #7
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