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A giant "hole" formed in the Sun

14 декабря 2023

A giant "hole" formed in the Sun

Astronomers have recorded the appearance of a huge dark spot on the surface of the Sun, known as a coronal hole. It appeared near the equator of our star and now emits extremely fast and powerful radiation towards the Earth.


As reported by Space.com , a giant "hole" visually looks like a dark spot. The gap formed in the plasma spews powerful streams of extremely fast radiation, and this solar wind is still directed directly at the Earth. The newly formed coronal hole was first seen on December 2. It reached its maximum width, which is about 800 thousand kilometers, in just 24 hours. Since December 4, the "hole" has been facing directly towards the Earth.


Given its gigantic size, experts initially predicted that it would be capable of provoking a powerful geomagnetic storm, but not of the highest class. The Earth was predicted to experience possible interruptions and disconnections of radio communications and strong auroras for several days. However, subsequent observations showed that the solar wind turned out to be very fast, but less intense than expected. Therefore, the storm turned out to be weaker than predicted, although the appearance of strong auroras is still not excluded.


Experts cannot yet say for sure how long the giant "hole" will remain on the surface of the Sun. Previous observations of coronal holes suggest that such spots are usually able to last for more than one solar revolution (27 days).


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coronal holes occur when the Sun's magnetic fields suddenly "open up." Part of the material from the upper layer breaks off from the surface and is carried into space in the form of a solar wind. Such holes look like dark spots because they are colder and less dense than the plasma surrounding them. Geomagnetic storms on Earth occur because radiation streams from coronal holes turn out to be much faster than the usual solar wind.


Scientists also note that the most powerful geomagnetic storm in the last six years was recorded in March this year, when a huge coronal hole also appeared on the Sun. Since then, solar activity has been increasing. Experts attribute this to the fact that the Sun is approaching the explosive peak of its approximately 11-year cycle, known as the solar maximum.