Sun  ID: 4124

The Sun's Magnetic Field

During the course of the approximately 11 year sunspot cycle, the magnetic field of the Sun reverses. The last time this happened was around the year 2000.

Using magnetograms from the SOHO/MDI and SDO/HMI instruments, it is possible to examine possible configurations of the magnetic field above the photosphere. These magnetic configurations are important in understanding potential conditions of severe space weather.

The magnetic field in this animation is constructed using the Potential Field Source Surface (PFSS) model. The PFSS model is one of the simplest yet realistic models we can explore. Using the solar magnetograms as the 'source surface' of the field, it builds the field structure from the photosphere out to about two solar radii (an altitude of 1 solar radius). These visuals were generated using the SolarSoft package.

In this visualization, the white magnetic field lines are considered 'closed'. The move up, and then return to the solar surface. The green and violet lines represenent field lines that are considered 'open'. Green represents positive magnetic polarity, and violet represents negative polarity. These field lines do not connect back to the Sun but with more distant magnetic fields in space. These field lines act as easy 'roads' for the high-speed solar wind.


Used Elsewhere In


Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Animator
Genna Duberstein (USRA): Producer
Karen Fox (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Data Used:
PFSS/Magnetic Field Lines also referred to as: PFSS
Model - NASA and ESA
This model generated from SOHO/MDI magnetograms through the SolarSoft package.
SOHO/Michelson Doppler Interferometer (MDI)/Magnetogram
SDO/HMI/Magnetogram also referred to as: SDO Magnetogram
Data Compilation
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Solar Magnetic Field
NASA Science >> Sun