SDO AIA 211 image showing a large triangular hole in the Sun's corona on March 13

Huge Coronal Hole Is Sending Solar Wind Our Way

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015


An enormous triangular hole in the Sun’s corona was captured earlier today by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, seen above from the AIA 211 imaging assembly. This gap in the Sun’s atmosphere is allowing more charged solar particles to stream out into the Solar System… and toward Earth as well.

Normally, loops of magnetic energy keep much of the Sun’s outward flow of gas contained. Coronal holes are regions — sometimes very large regions, such as the one witnessed today — where the magnetic fields don’t loop back onto the Sun but instead stream outwards, creating channels for solar material to escape.

The material constantly flowing outward is called the solar wind, which typically “blows” at around 250 miles (400 km) per second. When a coronal hole is present, though, the wind speed can double to nearly 500 miles (800 km) per second.

Increased geomagnetic activity and even geomagnetic storms may occur once the gustier solar wind reaches Earth, possibly within two to three days.

The holes appear dark in SDO images because they are cooler than the rest of the corona, which is extremely hot — around 1,000,000 C (1,800,000 F)!

Here’s another image, this one in another AIA channel (193):

AIA 193 image of the March 13 coronal hole

Keep up with the Sun’s latest activity and see more images on NASA’s SDO site here.

Images courtesy NASA, SDO and the AIA science team.

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20 Responses

  1. Kawarthajon says:

    So, does this mean we’ll get good aurorae in the Northern latitudes when this reaches our area? I have been unlucky so far, because it has been cloudy in my area after solar storms so I have missed out. It would be great to have another chance.

  2. Looks like the Eye of Sauron…

  3. Dima R says:

    Waw, our sun is so hot!
    I always wondered if it’s physically possible to drop some kind of robotic explorer or diver into the sun and get high resolution pics from the inside of the sun?

  4. David Brown says:

    Ummm… how the hell is this so symmetrical?

  5. David Krauss says:

    There’s a hole in the sun! It’s going to go out unless we send in a piloted nuclear bomb!

    Seriously, that’s huge. Is it going to increase the sunburn-causing UV on the ground?

    • squidgeny says:

      I’m not certain but I don’t think these events affect the light output of the Sun – they just spew out material instead

  6. GBendt says:

    A coronal is not a hole in the sun, it is the hole in the corona, the sun´s very hot and very faint outer atmosphere.

  7. layman07 says:

    there is a laughing human face … sun man.

  8. Ignoramus1 says:

    Is there any good explanation for those improbably straight lines except for a freakish accident?

  9. Christopher Rutigliano says:

    can you see any x flares from a coronal hole? I mean can the produce bigger storm than AR14329 did a week ago?

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