I was reading a popular news account of the sun's upcoming magnetic field reversal at http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0807/Sun-s-magnetic-reversal-means-big-changes-for-the-solar-system-video, and was confused already in the second paragraph:
Data from NASA-supported observatories indicate that the next flip will happen in just three to four months – the north pole has already jumped the gun and reversed, and scientists are now just waiting for the south pole to catch-up. The completed flip will herald changes throughout the entire solar system, according to a NASA video.
This doesn't make any sense to me. Given that there are no magnetic monopoles, there is no way for the sun to have two "south" magnetic poles. The field lines have to close somehow. (Granted, I don't for the life of me understand what a flux rope is, although the videos are cool.) I conclude that one of the following must be true:
- Most likely: the reporter misinterpreted / mistranslated-into-colloquial something a scientist said.
- Reasonably likely: my understanding of magnetism is completely wrong.
- Unlikely: all of the known physics of magnetism is completely wrong.
The reason I think 3. is unlikely is that it would have been the headline, not "Sun's magnetic reversal..."
So which is it? More generally, if it's possible to give a somewhat-technical description of "Sun's magnetic reversal", that would be awesome (but I realize that most likely that would require a book chapter, and is outside the scope of this forum). Feel free to gear your answer at the level of an incoming physics PhD student.