HomeSpaceTau Boötis’ pole flip was 15 years in the past

Tau Boötis’ pole flip was 15 years in the past

Tau Boötis: Giant blue exoplanet seen past the star's glowing orange magnetic arcs like solar prominences.
Artist’s idea of the large exoplanet orbiting the star Tau Boötis, seen via the star’s magnetic arcs. Picture by way of David Aguilar/ CfA/

Tau Boötis pole flip

March 13, 2008. On this date, a faint star within the constellation Boötes the Herdsman went down in astronomical historical past. That’s the date astronomers printed a research of the star Tau Boötis, exhibiting it flipped its north and south magnetic poles. These astronomers had been engaged in mapping the magnetic fields of stars. However Tau Boötis was the primary star, apart from our solar, that they noticed endure a magnetic reversal. The peer-reviewed journal Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society printed the research.

Afterward, astronomers intently watched Tau Boötis for extra magnetic turnovers. They found that this star undergoes magnetic reversals in durations of about two years. That’s in distinction to our solar, which undergoes a magnetic reversal about each 11 years. Learn extra concerning the solar’s magnetic reversals beneath.

Though it’s not a shiny star, you possibly can see Tau Boötis for your self. It’s close to the blazing yellow-orange star Arcturus, brightest star in your japanese sky in on spring evenings from the Northern Hemisphere. To confirm that you simply’re taking a look at Arcturus, search for the Large Dipper up excessive in your northern sky. Comply with the arc of the Large Dipper’s deal with to Arcturus. Tau Boötis is a few 70 occasions fainter than Arcturus. You’ll see its location on the chart beneath.

Star chart showing an elongated kite shape on its side with labeled stars.
The star Tau Boötis lies close to Arcturus, the brightest star in Boötes the Herdsman. You possibly can see it on spring evenings within the Northern Hemisphere. Chart by way of Chelynne Campion/ EarthSky.

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Our solar’s magnetic fields

Now, about our solar’s magnetic reversals. As we mentioned above, the solar’s magnetic polarity flips roughly each 11 years. Magnetic reversals are a part of our solar’s regular exercise, and – as proven by Tau Boötis in 2008 – it’s probably different stars just like our solar within the Milky Method galaxy (and different galaxies) additionally endure magnetic reversals.

The YouTube video beneath is from December 2013, when the photo voltaic cycle was close to its peak. It options photo voltaic astrophysicist Alex Younger, speaking about Photo voltaic Cycle 24 and about what a magnetic flip means for Earth. You may get every day updates on our solar’s exercise from Alex right here.

Magnetic discipline flip video

Now try one other cool video, beneath. It’s from NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle and is a visualization, exhibiting the place of the solar’s magnetic fields from January 1997 to December 2013. Magenta traces present the place the solar’s general discipline is damaging, and the inexperienced traces present the place it’s optimistic. A area with extra electrons is damaging, the area with much less is optimistic. Extra grey traces signify areas of native magnetic variation.

The visualization exhibits how, in 1997, the solar confirmed optimistic polarity on the highest and damaging polarity on the underside. Over the following 12 years, every set of traces creeps towards the other pole, finally exhibiting a whole flip.

Enjoyable to assume that different stars (almost certainly) do that, too!

Backside line: On March 13, 2008, astronomers printed the primary research exhibiting that the star Tau Boötis skilled a pole flip. That’s a magnetic reversal, which is one thing we had beforehand solely seen on the solar.

Supply: Magnetic cycles of the planet-hosting star Tau Boötis

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