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A diagram comparing Fisk's model to the older model.
Courtesy of University of Michigan, Fisk Team.

The Sun's Magnetic Field - New and Improved Model?
News story originally written on November 14, 1997

There are magnets all around us. Many of us use them to stick papers on our refrigerator doors. Well, the Sun acts like it has a big magnet in it. This magnetic force spreads out from the Sun in lines. They are called magnetic field lines.

Lennard Fisk of the University of Michigan released a new model of the Sun's magnetic field lines last year. His model is very different from the model made in the 1950's.

Fisk's model says that the magnetic field lines coming from the Sun look like a wild tornado (see picture to the left). The older model says the magnetic field lines look like the path water would take while coming from a lawn sprinkler.

More and more evidence (especially from the Ulysses spacecraft) supports Fisk's model. Could this be a new scientific discovery!? We'll see!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA