TechA dark spot on the Sun: it's the size of 60 Earths. What does this mean?

A dark spot on the Sun: it's the size of 60 Earths. What does this mean?

A picture of the Sun showing the gigantic size of the phenomenon.
A picture of the Sun showing the gigantic size of the phenomenon.
Images source: © AIA, NASA, SDO
6:09 PM EST, December 6, 2023

The NOAA agency has reported the formation of a coronal hole on the sun's surface that is wider than 60 earths combined. Concurrently, it's ejecting potent layers of radiation, known as the solar wind, in our direction.

Scientists from NOAA revealed an intriguing discovery. On December 2, within 24 hours, a coronal hole, or dark spot, emerged on the surface of the sun. This formidable entity boasts a width equal to 60 Earth-sized planets.

Coronal holes are a result of the magnetic field's opening. They are cooler and less dense than the surrounding plasma, resulting in their black appearance. Most importantly, they are only visible via ultraviolet light.

It's an exceptional phenomenon: it's responsible for the northern lights

The hole that formed on the Sun's surface emits large amounts of radiation toward the Earth, known as solar wind, which travels at a great speed.

This implies that the inbound radiation streams can cause disruptions in Earth's protective magnetic field. This, in turn, can lead to rare events like geomagnetic storms. These are responsible for power disruptions and the widespread occurrence of the Northern lights phenomenon.

The emergence of coronal holes correlates with a significant increase in the sun's activity. This is likely linked to the approach of the so-called solar maximum. Scientists anticipate the peak of eruptions on our natural satellite's surface to occur in early 2024.

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