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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

Lennard Fisk of the University of Michigan released a new model of the Sun's magnetic field last year. His model was very different from the model made in the 1950's. More and more evidence is being collected that supports Fisk's model. Could this be a new scientific breakthrough!? We'll see!

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

Fisk's model is based on accepted solar phenomenon. It takes into account the fact that the gases at the Sun's equator rotate faster than the gas at the poles. Fisk also considered the fact that the Sun's magnetic field is constantly expanding.

The old model of the Sun's magnetic field cannot explain recent data collected by the NASA/ESA Ulysses mission. Fisk and team members Thomas Zurbuchen and Nathan Schwadron are using the Ulysses data to test Fisk's model.

The team admits that their model still requires a lot of testing. But, "This is science at it best," says Fisk. "Someone observes a phenomenon, and that causes you to think about things in different ways. Then you put out a theory that says what it is, and people poke at that. You look at the observational evidence and test it out. The model will undoubtedly change -- models always do."

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