NASA recently shared an x-ray photo of the sun, hoping they will spread some light on the mysteries of the star. During their ongoing research, a large black spot was discovered on the sun. Within the black spot, temperatures appear to be much cooler than the rest of the surface. Upon further investigation, it appears as though there is an interruption in the magnetic field and that particles within the region may be leaking out into space. NASA believes that the dark spot could be around for at least five years and could result in an amazing array of northern lights on Earth.
NASA states that the large dark spot is a Coronal hole, and is a well known occurrence on the surface of the sun. However, the Coronal hole that is currently present is larger than they have seen before. According to Metro U.K., the Coronal hole was photographed by NASA’s “sentry spacecraft,” which has a constant eye on the sun. Depsite the large size of the Coronal hole, NASA is not worried that it will pose any threat to the sun’s well being or the Earth.
‘”Coronal holes are regions of the corona where the magnetic field reaches out into space rather than looping back down onto the surface. Particles moving along those magnetic fields can leave the sun rather than being trapped near the surface. n the parts of the corona where the particles leave the sun, the glow is much dimmer and the coronal hole looks dark.”
NASA continued to say that the Coronal hole could be present for quite a long time, according to the Washington Post.
“They can be seen for a long time, although the exact shape changes all the time. The polar coronal hole can remain visible for five years or longer. Each time a coronal hole rotates by the Earth we can measure the particles flowing out of the hole as a high-speed stream, another source of space weather.”
NASA photographed the first Coronal hole in the early 1970’s, aboard Skylab. The occurrences are not considered to be rare or dangerous, but are carefully monitored by NASA as they study the surface and the composition of the sun. The most recent Coronal Hole was photographed on January 1st, 2015 and is the larges known since they have been discovered.
[Photo Courtesy: Metro U.K.]