The Sun’s two hemispheres inverse in polarity approximately every 11 years, and scientists are now saying that the current cycle of change may have already begun.
Scientists at Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory have noted increased activity on the surface of the Sun that they say is indicative of the beginnings of the reversal of the star’s entire heliosphere.
The process will be gradual and will involve the migration of the Sun’s magnetic sphere from the equator to one of the poles, reducing to zero before reforming with the opposite polarity.
“The sun’s poles are reversing, and this is a large-scale process that takes place over a few months, but it happens once every 11 years,” said Todd Hoeksema, a solar physicist at the observatory.
The change will be felt throughout the universe, including here on Earth where the increased activity of the Sun and increased number of cosmic rays will cause interference with the magnetosphere. Scientists have said that it is unlikely that any adverse effects will be realized though, and that the change may even help to protect the Earth.