Giant hole appears in the sun, could swallow 50 Earths

A massive coronal hole has formed in the topmost layer of the sun.

An incredibly massive hole has formed in the topmost layer of the sun and the magnetic field surrounding — a hole so big that it could swallow 50 Earths at once.

Brilliant auroras are shimmering at the Earth’s poles right now, thanks to this massive ejection of solar wind due to this giant hole that is colliding with the Earth’s magnetic field, according to a Space.com report.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory orbiting Earth has captured some spectacular new images on Oct. 10, which were taken an ultraviolet wavelength that humans can’t see. A person wouldn’t be able to see this hole even if they were able to look at the sun directly.

But it’s there just the same. It’s basically a huge gap in the magnetic field of the sun, which allows particles to escape and blast in all directions at 500 miles per second. The particles that head Earth’s way and collide with the atmosphere cause geomagnetic storms, which can knock out radios and satellites while triggering beautiful aurora borealis displays that are famous in Arctic climates when these coronal ejections happen.

Coronal holes aren’t uncommon, and are typically found at the poles of the sun, or at its lower latitudes. Usually, this happens during the less active part of the sun’s 11-year cycle, and they occur in the outermost layer of the sun, which is called the corona.

Normally, auroras are only visible in furthest reaches both north and south, closer to the poles. But these auroras were so bright and vivid and far-reaching that the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration predicted that they would be visible as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Oregon. This didn’t happen, but it has happened in the past in particularly large coronal mass ejections.

The coronal hole is also moving, and headed west on the surface of the sun. It will continue to send solar winds the Earth’s way, leading to more geomagnetic storms, so the light show at the poles is likely to continue for at least a little while longer.

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