The Sun Has a Giant “Hole,” Spacecraft Reveals

About a quarter of our star has been covered by a coronal hole

By on July 29th, 2013 17:26 GMT

NASA has announced that a space telescope aiming at the Sun has spotted a giant hole in the solar atmosphere.

The dark spot covers about a quarter of our star, according to NASA.

The coronal hole over the north pole of the Sun came into view between July 13 and 18 and was observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, Space.com reveals.

NASA has already released a video of the Sun as seen by the SOHO spacecraft, including the vast region that has gone dark.

Coronal holes are darker and cooler regions of the Sun’s atmosphere, containing little solar material. They can affect space weather, since they send solar particles streaming off the Sun about three times faster than the wind unleashed anywhere else in its atmosphere, as NASA says.

“While it’s unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere,” a NASA employee said.

The activity is viewed as odd since coronal holes usually decrease leading up to the magnetic pole switch that happens around solar maximum, the Sun’s activity peak, which is currently taking place.

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