The Sun’s coronal hole recently observed by NASA scientists is nothing short of impressive. The massive coronal hole is imaged in the picture above, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The Sun’s coronal hole is not per se a hole in the Sun. However, it may have significant implications for our life here on Earth. Think of the recent multitude of Auroras photographed around the globe. Last week’s Auroras, an effect of the solar wind that is speedily heading towards our atmosphere, have been an impressive light-show.
The image of the Sun’s coronal hole was captured on October 10th. It shows the shifting dark hole estimated to measure 50 times the diameter of our home planet. At the same time, it is one of the largest coronal hole ever registered by NASA scientists.
Scientists with the Solar Dynamics Observatory explained that what we are seeing is not an actual hole in the mass of the sun, although it may look as such. It is in fact a hole that occurs in the plasma aura surrounding the giant star, due to lower temperatures. When captured under ultraviolet light or X-ray images, the coronal hole appears to be a black region.
As such, the coronal hole, appearing in the northern hemisphere of the Sun’s outermost layer has been calculated to be spewing solar wind at the speed of 500 miles per second. Often, coronal holes, particularly the larger ones are spewing solar winds at faster speeds than usual. This is due to the lower temperatures registered in the plasma aura, the low density of solar material, as well as weaker magnetic fields.
As a result of the Sun’s coronal hole recently observed by NASA scientists, an alert was issued for geomagnetic storms. When the solar wind is reaching our planet, the magnetosphere is disturbed. And while the Auroras are enchanting, geomagnetic storms are also responsible for disturbances in the radio communication systems and satellite communication systems.
The Sun’s coronal hole will eventually diminish in size. However, NASA scientists can’t predict how long it would take for the coronal hole to disappear. Nonetheless, another interesting fact is that the October 10th coronal hole is in fact the result of three smaller coronal holes coming together. The three smaller coronal holes were observed on October 8th.
Photo Credits: CNET