Monday, September 17th 2012, 5:17 AM EDT
One of these spots is not like the others. Sunspots are often described as planet sized magnets. Just like all magnets, they each have a North (N) and South (S) Magnetic Pole. The magnetic polarities are also opposite between the northern and southern hemisphere. When one Solar Cycle transitions into the next Cycle, the magnetic polarities will perform a flip as compared to the previous cycle. During Cycle 23 a northern hemisphere Sunspot would have a S-N configuration whereas the southern hemisphere would be N-S. In contrast, Cycle 24 sunspots have a N-S configuration in the north and S-N in the south.
If you take a look at new Sunspot 1574 (circled), it is magnetically reversed compared to Sunspots 1569 and 1571 also in the south. This does not mean that a new Cycle is about to start however. A small percentage of sunspots will be magnetically reversed during the middle of a sunspot cycle.
Source Link: solarham.net