Scientists Bewildered by Strange Sun Activity

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sun and Earth, size comparison. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. (Vladimir Arndt/Shutterstock)

The Sun is on the brink of an about face, at least as far as its magnetic poles are concerned. 

Once every 11 years the Sun's magnetic field flips, as its north magnetic pole becomes the south and vice versa. But as scientists watch for the flip this year, they're also bewildered by some other strange activity that Sun has been up to.

Normally the Sun has an explosive end to it's solar cycle. Sunspots should be littering the field of view for scientists who follow this activity. But this is far from the case—in fact it's been well over a century since they've seen this much peace and quiet.

The Takeaway is joined by Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford University, which closely watches the sun's magnetic fields.


Todd Hoeksema

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]


People are funny. Should scientists be any different? Of course the sun will be doing things that we don't understand, and a pattern that is thought to be established is only established for a short time that humans have been watching and calculating.
The best scientific minds will remain open to observations, and not affix conclusions. It's fun to extrapolate, but that goes only as far as the best mind, or imagination goes ~ everything is sooooo much more interesting than that!

Nov. 21 2013 12:53 PM

It does not seem surprising the data is becoming more spontaneous the longer we study the sun. As far as close form observation of what's actually going on with the sun, we really have not had the technology to be as close as we have been until the last couple decades.

The sun is billions of years old and we've been obsessed with it since our beginnings. the sun, the stars. They were our gods. The inspiration and genesis of the concept of god. In my opinion at least.

Our perception has changed. Now, it's a huge ball of molten fusion energy that's eventually going expand past earth, implode into a black hole, taking earth with it.

The sun and nuclear weapons have a similar fear behind them I believe. the idea that something will explode to the point that it vaporizes us has been a fear since I was born. My generation, gen x/y, we were born into a world where the ability to blow up the earth multiple times has always been a reality. The destruction of our planet, the entire destruction of it, has played a prominent role in how we're interpreting the suns actions at the moment I believe.

The sun is a dramatic, sassy bitch. it'll be interesting to follow the studies, but at the same time it sorta feels like a tease being alive now, all the cool stuff will start happening in 50years if we haven't destroyed ourselves yet.

Nov. 21 2013 10:04 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I know that the changes that the sun is going through is man's fault, I can't prove it yet, so I will call it "an act of god."

Nov. 21 2013 09:35 AM

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