The Solar Polar Magnet Mystery

NASA Science News made international headlines a month ago by reporting that solar physicist Dr. Todd Hoeksema, Director of Stanford’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, predicted that the sun’s magnetic field would undergo a “complete” polarity reversal within the next 3-4 months.

Unfortunately, NASA Science News made misleading statements that fooled the world press.

The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of ‘Solar Max’ will be behind us, with half yet to come
NASA Science News, “The Sun’s Magnetic Field is about to Flip“, 8/5/2013

This statement and others made in the press release and in a accompanying slick ScienceCast video could hardly be more inaccurate.

Hoeksema himself wasn’t misquoted; he and Dr. Phil Scherrer were simply misreported.

The sun’s magnetic field is far more mysterious and interesting than NASA presented.

The Big Shocker!

The Sun’s magnetic field from May1976 to August2013  (Source:

NASA erroneously stated that “something big is about to happen”. It isn’t. It’s already happening. Polarity reversal has been well underway for over a year!

NASA didn’t report that Hoeksema was only predicting when the south geographic pole would finish flipping polarity to “complete” the reversal. Buried at the end of the story, NASA did report that the sun’s north geographic pole had already switched magnetic polarity.

What NASA missed completely is that, as of this moment, the sun has two north magnetic poles and no south magnetic pole at all. That’s not supposed to be possible.

Right now we have a monopole sun! Our sun is nothing like a standard magnet.

According to the revealing (but hard to understand) chart above based on Wilcox Solar Observatory data… and in chronological order:

  1. Solar Cycle 24’s sunspot maximum peaked in February 2012
  2. The sun’s north geographic pole switched magnetic polarity in May 2012
  3. Since May 2012 the sun has been a monopole magnet with only a north pole
  4. Solar polarity reversal (averaging both north and south) took place in May 2013
  5. The sun’s south geographic pole hasn’t switched magnetic polarity yet

Maximum solar sunspot activity was reached three months before the magnetic field reversal got into full swing. That is not unusual. It happened two of the three previous cycles.

That is a far cry from “something big is about to happen”. Cycle 24 reality is nothing like NASA reported.

Solar Polar Magnetic Mystery

The Sun’s magnetic field strength has been fading since 1975 (Source: Leif Svalgaard)

The biggest mystery of all overlooked by NASA Science News is the 40-year decline in the sun’s magnetic field strength and what it means.

Nobody knows for sure why the sun’s magnetic field is disappearing.

The sun’s dwindling field strength is rapidly closing in on the 1,500 gauss boundary. Below that is the point of no return for sunspots. That point will be reached around 2022 during the next solar sunspot cycle. It is one of many reasons most solar physicists predict that next cycle will be the least active sun in over 300 years.

In the August 5th press release, NASA Science News did point out that the waviness of a polarity reversal better shields the inner solar system against cosmic rays that can have an effect on earth’s climate.

The part left out is that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation which then reflects more sunlight that, in turn, has a cooling effect on planet earth. A new report confirming the effect was announced by the Technical University of Denmark just yesterday.

Also left out is that the 40-year downward trend in the sun’s weakening magnetic field allows more and more cosmic rays to penetrate deeper into earth’s atmosphere and cool earth’s long-term climate.


Even the most trusted news sources can get things wrong. That is what happened at NASA Science News on 8/5/2013. Usually they do great work.

The unfortunate side effect was that the world press assumed an oversimplified view of solar magnetic field reversals and missed out on all the really neat stuff!

Like, for example, the sun today is a magnetic monopole. Like, for example, the sun’s magnetic field is dwindling into nothingness. Like, for example, sunspots might disappear entirely. Like, for example, the earth might be made colder over the next few decades because of changes on the sun to come.

That, folks, is exciting science news!!

About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Sep 5, 2013, in Business, Climate, Energy, environment, nature, news, Opinion, Politics, science, space, sunspot report. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Sent from my iPhone

  2. There is no mystery.

    The Sun’s pulsar core or super-fluid superconductivity in the Sun’s iron-rich mantle generate the solar magnetic fields.

    Professors Barry Ninham, Stig Friberg and I explained that in a paper published in the Journal of Fusion Energy in 2002.

    I’ll supply references when I get to my computer.

    With kind regards, Oliver K. Manuel Former NASA Principal Investigator for Apollo

    Sent from my iPhone

    • The sun doesn’t have a pulsar core. It can’t for at least two major reasons.

      First, the sun lacks a pulsar signature.

      A pulsar’s singular defining characteristic is a very powerful series of pulses made of radio and other EM radiation emitted at a regular, but slowly decaying, pace. They can emit upwards of 1,000 pulses/second.

      The pulses are believd to be generated by a rotating, magnetic neutron star. They rotate at very high speed, orders of magnitude faster than our sun.

      Earth’s sun has no such such defining pulses, therefore, by definition, it cannot have a pulsar core.

      Second, if the sun had a neutron core, like a pulsar, then all its outer layers would instantly be pulled into the typically 12-mile wide neutron core and would cause a massive supernova explosion.

  3. For sixty-eight years, the Sun’s pulsar core has been purposefully hidden from the public.

    1. NASA promoted the false impression that our Sun is a giant ball of hydrogen.
    2. DOE promoted the false illusion of attractive interactions between neutrons

    Why? Fear of nuclear annihilation convinced world leaders and scientists to
    a.) Hide the source of energy that destroyed Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945
    b.) Eliminate constitutions and form the United Nations on 24 Oct 1945
    c.) Fabricate standard models on blatantly false scientific evidence:
    _ 1. Stars burn, rather than generate hydrogen, and
    _ 2. Neutrons attract, rather than repel, other neutrons

    Social insanity followed because physical and spiritual properties of Nature were irrationally and artificially separated after 1945!

    O. K. Manuel, B. W. Ninham and S. E. Friberg, “Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate”, Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198, 2002

  4. Nature first published evidence of the Sun’s pulsar core in 1977.

    When I get to my office I’ll send a reference to that 1977 paper and to confirmation twenty years later, in 1997.

    Oliver K. Manuel

  5. Thanks, azleader, for allowing posts that disagree with your own opinions.

    I appreciate that. If you read Fred Hoyle’s autobiography you will find on page 153 that Fred Hoyle, Sir Arthur Eddington, and all if the astronomers and astrophysicists believed the interior of the Sun was iron until the end of the Second World War.

    Suddenly in 1946 they all decided without debate or discussion that the interior of the Sun is hydrogen and H-fusion supplies it’s energy and makes heavier elements.

    Measurements and observations show that:
    1. The Sun and other stars make and discard hydrogen
    2. The Sun made our elements and then birthed the Solar System 5 Ga ago
    3. The Sun sustained the origin and evolution of life after about 3.5 Ga ago

    I will send references.

    • I don’t have a lock on truth… I can be wrong as easily as the next guy. I’ll never know unless I listen.

      I consider Hoyle a personal hero even though he staked his reputation on the Steady-State theory that ultimately proved wrong. He was a great communicator and spokesman for astronomy.

      I was taught that hydrogen and helium were created in the big bang and that garden variety stars, like ours, fuse hydrogen into helium and later when they are compacted more by gravity will fuse helium into heavier elements.

  6. These reference are from this 1945-2013 history of modern science:

    Click to access Creator_Destroyer_Sustainer_of_Life.pdf

    [16] Peter Toth, “Is the Sun a pulsar?” Nature 270, 159-160 (1977):

    [17] V. A. Kotov, “A pulsar inside the Sun?” Radiophysics and Quantum Electronics 39, 811-814 (1996):

    • I don’t have a subscription to Nature and/or Springer, therefore could only read the abstract to the the Kotov paper and the abstract and 1st page of the Toth paper.

      Both papers talk about detecting a solar pulsation occurring about every 2.6 hours that is a billion billion times weaker (nano teslas vs. 1 billion teslas) than a typical pulsar’s pulse. The nano Tesla range for the sun’s pulses is shown in Fig. 1 and 2 of the Toth paper.

      Kotov, in the abstract, says the sun’s pulse is “like a neutron star”, but NOT that the sun is a neutron star. Big difference.

      If the sun is a pulsar, it is the weakest pulsar in the known universe. It’s pulsations can’t be from a true neutron star because that requires a minimum mass of at least 1.4 times the sun to form.

      It’s more likely that the sun’s pulses are governed by entirely different physical processes than at work in a typical pulsar.

      It is revealing that the titles of both papers are posed in the form of a question, rather than stated as a point of fact. In both cases they appear to be making the pulsar case based on the existence of an exceptionally weak pulsation.

      In reading your paper I’m confused by talk of neutrons attracting and repulsing things. A neutron is an electrically neutral subatomic particle. It doesn’t attract or repulse anything.

      A neutron (essentially a squished hydrogen atom) is influenced by only two forces – gravity and the strong nuclear force.

      In the case of objects larger than 1.4 solar masses, gravity is strong enough to compress electrons into nuclei to form neutron stars, but not strong enough to overcome the strong nuclear force that holds the neutrons together.

      That is why a neutron star is the final stage of stellar evolution for large stars spectacularly ending their nuclear fusion lives as supernovae.

  7. I also recommend reading:

    1. Stuart Clark, The Sun Kings: The unexpected tragedy of Richard Carrington and the tale of how modern astronomy began (Princeton University Press, 2007) 224 pages:

    2. I. G. Usoskin, B. Kromer, F. Ludlow, J. Beer, M. Friedrich, G. A. Kovaltsov, S. K. Solanki and L. Wacker, “The AD775 cosmic event revisited: The Sun is to blame,” Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters 552, L3 (2013):

    3. Oliver K. Manuel and Alberto Boretti, “Yes, the Sun is a pulsar,” Nature (submitted 12 Dec 2012)

  8. None of us have a lock on truth…

    I was taught the same things you were. Fortunately my research mentor, the late Paul Kazuo Kuroda, had his own opinions about such matters.

    He never told me those opinions, but in 1960 he assigned a research project that would require me to discover the truth for myself:

    “The origin of the solar system and its elements”

  9. I also consider Hoyle a personal hero. His Steady-State theory better describes the universe that I perceive than the Big Bang model of a finite universe magically exploding from nothing at time, t = 0 .

    • You are correct, what triggered the bang is a giant question mark.

      Years ago when I worked in a food processing cannery during summer break from college, my future wife embroidered what I called my ‘big bang theory work shirt’.

      She covered the entire back with little galaxies showing their momentum vectors. The front and sides were chocked full of graphs and things from various journal articles. They showed stuff like the known measured chemical composition of the universe, the measurement of the cosmic background radiation, the independently measured age of the stellar Universe, the expansion rate of the universe, how the distance scale of the universe is determined and things like that.

      The BBT is the only theory that can explain all the known macro properties of the universe, including why the sky is dark at night.

      In the end, even Hoyle renounced his own Steady-State Theory. Its hard to defend a theory that requires matter be continuously created out of nothing and can’t explain the universe’s chemical composition (particularly the 29% helium), its temperature and why the sky is dark at night..

  10. “Both papers talk about detecting a solar pulsation occurring about every 2.6 hours that is a billion billion times weaker (nano teslas vs. 1 billion teslas) than a typical pulsar’s pulse.”

    If the Sun had a pulsar core, what would be the magnetic field at the top of the photosphere from the pulsar lurking deep inside?

    • If a true pulsar… first, it couldn’t lurk.

      A 10 to the 18th power difference in teslas between a typical pulsar and the sun is an unimaginably massive difference. That could not be hidden at the center of the sun. If there, it would obliterate all life on earth.

      One thing I’m pretty certain of…the sun wouldn’t be behaving like it is right now.

      Over the last 40 years the sun’s magnetic field (a strong characteristic of all pulsars) has decreased by over half and, at the current rate, won’t have any magnetic field at all by the mid-2030s! No sunspots, no CMEs, no flares… no nothing. See 2nd graph in article above.

      I recommend breaking out the winter coats. Looks like we are gonna need them.

      • If the magnetic field decreased as the square of the distance from the pulsar, an expansion of the bulk Sun might appear as a decrease in it’s magnetic field.

        Sent from my iPhone

      • You are right… magnetic field strength does decrease as the square of distance.

        However, there are still two problems:
        1-A pulsar’s pulse is a directed beam and doesn’t followed the distance squared formula.
        2-A billion tesla cannot dampen enough to be unnoticeable under almost any conditions

        Pulsars were discovered because they are very powerful radio sources that can be detected at great distances. Up close, they are lethal.

  11. Thanks for your comments. You may be right. If so, this one page synopsis of my research career (and part of my research mentor’s career from 1945 to present) is wrong:

    Click to access Synopsis.pdf

    The synopsis gives possible reasons for trying to hide the Sun’s pulsar core, despite hundreds of observations and measurements referenced there that indicate the Sun
    a.) Made our elements,
    b.) Birthed the solar system, and
    c.) Reformed on the pulsar core.

    “You are right… magnetic field strength does decrease as the square of distance.”

    Newly formed pulsars have magnetic field strengths as high as 10^14 or even 10^15 gauss

    How much would the field strength drop in going from a 10 km neutron core to the top of the photosphere, 7 x 10^5 km ?

    Would Peter Toth [1], V. A. Kotov [2], my colleagues [3,4] and the reviewers of these papers understand your objection?

    [1] “Is the Sun a pulsar?” Nature 270, 159-160 (1977):

    [2] “A pulsar inside the Sun?” Radiophysics and Quantum Electronics 39 , 811-814 (1996):

    [3] “Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate”, Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198, 2002

    [4] “Yes, the Sun is a pulsar,” Nature (submitted 12 Dec 2012)

    Again, I thank you for allowing views to be posted that disagree with your own.

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