May 4, 2023: New sunspot AR3296 is breaking the law: Hale’s Law. The sunspot’s magnetic field is reversed compared to other nearby sunspots in the sun’s northern hemisphere. This magnetogram from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the situation:
According to Hale’s Law, Solar Cycle 25 sunspots in the sun’s northern hemisphere should have a -/+ polarity (negative on the left, positive on the right). AR3296 is reversed; its polarity is +/-.
Studies show that about 3% of all sunspots violate Hale’s Law. In most ways, reversed polarity sunspots are totally normal. They have about the same lifespan and size as ordinary sunspots. In one important way, however, they are different. According to a 1982 survey by Frances Tang of the Big Bear Solar Observatory, reversed polarity sunspots are more than twice as likely to develop complex magnetic fields, in which + and – are mixed together. Reversed polarity sunspots are therefore more likely to explode.
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