NASA's orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory has released a new image of the giant coronal hole on the topmost layer of the sun. The researchers say that the hole and its magnetic field is letting off ultrafast solar wind.
The hole was captured by the observatory on Oct. 10 at an ultraviolet wavelength that cannot be seen with the naked eye. According to the experts, the solar winds released from the coronal hole are the reason behind several nights of auroras that the Earth has been experiencing.
The coronal holes are formed on the surface of the sun during its least active points in the 11-year cycle. They typically form over the lower latitudes of the sun or toward the poles. These holes form in the outermost layer of the sun called “corona.”
The hole in the magnetic field of the sun had been releasing a stream of particles capable of moving at a speed of 500 miles per second. When these ultrafast streams of particles combine with the weakened solar magnetic field, high-energy solar winds are formed.
The experts say that the solar winds in turn take the form of geomagnetic storms on Earth. These storms result in auroras or “northern lights” that are typically observed to the northernmost regions. However, sometimes, auroras can also be observed toward the south. The geomagnetic storms end up disrupting navigation, radio communication and power on the planet.
In a statement, NOAA said that the Arctic would continue to observe more auroras due to the movement of a massive coronal hole toward the western region of the sun. The phenomenon is expected to generate stronger solar winds that would ultimately reach Earth and generate geomagnetic storms.