February 23, 2024

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Large “holes” discovered in the Sun – what do they mean for our planet?

Large “holes” discovered in the Sun – what do they mean for our planet?

Effects on the magnetic field

Large “holes” discovered in the Sun – what do they mean for our planet?

In the past week, NASA researchers have observed two so-called coronal holes on the Sun’s surface. They unleash winds that hurtle toward Earth at speeds of up to 1.8 million miles per hour.

Published

The image, released on March 29, 2023, shows one of the two coronal holes on the Sun.

spaceweather.com

  • Coronal holes have been visible on the Sun for several days.

  • A hole discovered Wednesday is spewing solar wind at 1.8 million miles per hour.

  • Winds are expected to blow toward Earth throughout Friday on our planet.

A huge “hole” has formed on the surface of the Sun, which is 20 times larger than the Earth. Called a coronal hole, it emits the solar wind at 2.9 million kilometers per hour. Winds are expected to blow toward Earth throughout Friday on our planet.

Researchers at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory are closely monitoring the situation, as the solar wind affects Earth’s magnetic field and satellites, which can affect the Internet, cell phone networks and GPS.

In most cases, the solar wind is harmless

The newly discovered hole is one of two large coronal holes seen in recent weeks. The first is 30 times larger than Earth and was observed on March 23. This unleashed the solar wind, which sparked stunning aurora borealis as far south as southern Arizona.

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Coronal holes are parts of the solar corona and are a common and harmless phenomenon on the Sun. “These are open magnetic fields from which fast solar winds rise,” says the NASA website. In general, the solar wind causes natural light effects in the sky. However, powerful enough, they can also disrupt satellites in space, power grids and GPS navigation systems.

Daniel Sharon, a professor of space and climate physics at University College London, told Business Insider that the hole’s location is “very interesting” because it usually occurs near the solar equator. “I expect some fast winds from this coronal hole to hit Earth this week from Friday evening into Saturday morning.”

First noticed in the early 1970s

Coronal holes were first discovered by NASA’s Skylab spacecraft in the early 1970s, but researchers still aren’t sure what causes them to form.

According to Wikipedia, they can occur at any time during the solar cycle — the cycle that the Sun’s magnetic field goes through every eleven years — but they are most common during the waning phase of the cycle. The current solar cycle began in 2019 and is expected to last until 2030.

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