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Space Science

Reversing Magnetic Poles Observed in Another Star 49

Babu 'God' Hoover tips us to news out of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy that for the first time, a magnetic pole reversal has been observed in a star other than our own. Tau Bootis, while similar to the Sun, also has a planet more than six times larger than Jupiter orbiting at only a twentieth of the distance between Earth and the Sun. Scientists hope to use this discovery to learn more about the magnetic dynamics in the Sun, which can affect our telecommunications, among other things.
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Reversing Magnetic Poles Observed in Another Star

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  • Tau Bootis (Score:5, Funny)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:59PM (#22536210) Homepage
    Star systems suffer from a similar naming convention problem as open source software.

    Nobody is going to relocate to an outpost in Tau Bootis. On the other hand, everyone would be clambering to go and live at the iPost in Apple Centauri.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, star names are truly a pain in the back office.

      In most of the star catalogues the first field is a running number (ID). After the catalogue is published that ID number becomes yet another name for that star. Some stars have a hundred of these names.

      Most stars are actually systems of multiple stars. Some catalogue numbers refer to the whole system. Some give each component a distinct ID. Some add a letter, a dot following a number, or dash, or something else.

      Catalogues do have errors due wrong iden
      • by dintech ( 998802 )

        The shocking thing is that most stars do not have names.
        I'm not so shocked. There are billions of them after all.
        • Just in our Galaxy alone there are billions. If you extend it out to all existing galaxies of which there are billions, each with billions of starts, we're looking at not billions of stars, but quintillions (or more) of them. Probably an order of magnitude more planets too.

          If we ever achieve intergalactic travel we're gonna be screwed if we try to give all of them even a unique obscure code.
          • by dintech ( 998802 )
            That's part of an interesting problem. Now that we've achieved intergalactic travel, where the hell do we go?
    • by thewiz ( 24994 )
      Hey, I happen to think Tau Bootis would be a great place for dancers to settle. After all, don't you like to shake your Booti?
      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
        [re: bad name?] Hey, I happen to think Tau Bootis would be a great place for dancers to settle. After all, don't you like to shake your Booti?

        Damn, now I can't get that song out of my head, along with the image of 3-breasted green women jiggling everything.
    • by syousef ( 465911 )
      Nobody is going to relocate to an outpost in Tau Bootis

      Nah they'll show. Just advertise as follows, with a time and date: Tau Bootis. Pole Dancing.
    • It depends on the name...if it was Tau Booty or Tau Boobtis, I think many slashdotters would relocate...
    • First of all, I must be a pedantic astro geek on this one and inform you that both sakdoctor and the original article have the spelling of Bootes wrong. Bootes [wikipedia.org] is a constellation named by the ancient Greeks. The designation Tau is to indicate the brightness of the star in the constellation. Alpha Bootes would be the brightest star in Bootes, Beta Bootes the second, et cetera. So there really is a proper naming convetion for these bright stars in well-known constellations. Its problem is simply that it's in
  • How long until it goes out and starts killing planets.

  • by Fëanáro ( 130986 ) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:15PM (#22536368)
    The article is a bit light on details.

    How can we actually detect the magnetic field of another star?
    I thought that the distance is certainly too big to observe it directly, and we barely have the resolution to tell that there is a planet there at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drDugan ( 219551 )
      They "detect" it the same way we "know" now that only 5% of the Universe is matter we can detect and the rest is boogy- man style "dark energy" and "dark matter". It is the most probable explanation given the prevailing consistent and agreed upon set of understandings (stories) by leading rational scientists.

      This is not optimal, but is the unfortunate result of extremism within the anti-rational camp (including religious fundamentalists of all the major religions) that cause the other camp (rational scient
      • I call bullshit. It's not scientists putting this crap out there. It's bad science reporting. If it's not a scary disease or a global disaster, then it gets about 3 words (not in a row) of actual scientific content, surrounded by fuzzy blather and bad analogies. (If it is a scary disease or a global disaster, then it gets 6 scientifically meaningful words, 4 of them wrong.)

    • by drerwk ( 695572 ) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:36PM (#22537282) Homepage
      Magnetic fields can affect the polarization of photons. So I suspect that there is an instrument which measures polarization, and that polarization has flipped from some previous measurement.
      There is a mention of " ESPaDOnS, the new generation stellar spectropolarimeter" as being the instrument involved. Link here http://www.ast.obs-mip.fr/projets/espadons/espadons.html [obs-mip.fr]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tick89 ( 812719 )
      The way they find out is taking a spectrum of the star light. The spectrum, via prisim/spectrial grating tells us what the object is made of, its temperature, ans if an effect knowen as, for give my spelling, Zieman spiliting effect takes place on the spectrial lines, there is a magnetic field present on or applyed to the luminus object. The object can be a star, candle flame, Heated iron, basicly anything that gives off light. All you need is a light source. No great or even mediourcer resoilution nec
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      How can we actually detect the magnetic field of another star?

      I don't know about stars, but for our sun, we determine magnetic polarity by studying the polarization of the light coming from it. Magnetic fields can polarize light.
  • I think the climatic change is part of rejuvenation process a natural cycle, one that man has experienced before. I think Mankind can have an effect on the climate as well, how much is not for sure.

    I think finding evidence of these cycles in other parts of the galaxy may give us clues as to what to expect and that the cycles are not limited to our own solar system.

    It has been my position that what we see happening is the result of an increase in energy absorbed by the earth system. The source(s) of th

    • I love it when people with a little knowledge pervert it with a whole lot of supposition and produce utter bullshit. They are more dangerous than the truly stupid.
    • People don't play the game here Richard. How controlled is your folly?
  • Not very surprising. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @04:21PM (#22537758) Homepage
    The magnetic field of a fluid system like a star or like the inner parts of our earth is constantly changing. A magnetic field is generated by the flows that occurs and in a complex pattern too, which means that it isn't fully predictable.

    By not fully predicable I refer to that the flows that occurs are similar to the weather we experience here on Earth. The weather can be predicted with an acceptable accuracy over a week, but longer than that is hard. However the timeframe for magnetic fields are different, so they are predictable over a longer period of time.

    Anyway - this means that the flows inside a star can change pattern, or that the electrical currents induced can change (not always the same thing) and they in turn will cause the magnetic field to change. Changes involves flares, sunspots and magnetic field disturbances - even as far as changing the polarity. So if our sun does that it's not surprising that another star with similar properties also exhibits the same behavior.

    More interesting stellar objects to study would be red stars like the Betelgeuze star or giant blue stars like Rigel. Since they are much larger they can offer different results. Same goes for white dwarfs. Some stars are very strong in their radiation and can provide a great deal of information from a distance, but not everything. There may still be surprises waiting for us!

  • I hope they can learn what is needed so we can get past it.
  • Don't.

    It would be bad.
  • Well, let hope there really will be a change at the polls this Nov, 2008... We've just got to start reversing the damage done at the polls from the last 8 years...

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.