The Sun’s polarity or magnetic field is set to reverse in the coming days. This isn’t as catastrophic as it sounds, although it will have implications for us on Earth.
The Sun’s magnetic field affects a number of our technological systems, from GPS satellites, to electric power lines, and, according to some scientists, can also have implications on our weather patterns. The Sun reverses its polarity every 11 years (half a solar cycle). This pales in comparison to Earth’s polar switching- the last time it happened for us was 600,000 years ago! During each solar cycle a number of spots appear on the surface of the sun. These are at the middle latitudes at solar maximum (characterised by many sunspots), and around it’s equator at solar minimum (characterised by few sunspots). Sunspots are important since they represent areas where powerful magnetic fields emerge. These magnetic fields give rise to solar flares, which are released by the sun and can affect the earth and other planets in the solar system. As the sunspots increase so do the frequency and severity of the solar flares, and hence an increased probability of disruption for us at Earth. During a pole reversal the magnetic field activity seen on the Sun’s surface, gradually moves towards the poles, which eventually reverses its polarity.
For more information see this video from NASA.