2 GIANT HOLES ON THE SUN’S SURFACE IN JUST A WEEK
On the 23rd of March this year, space researchers observed something strange with the sun and when inspected closely, it revealed a giant black spot on the sun’s surface. The giant hole-like thing observed was identified to be a ‘coronal hole’.
And within just one week of this observation, another black spot is observed, and this time the spot is said to be 20 times bigger than the earth.
It is not just that, these holes are seen emitting very strong and high-speed solar winds (streams of electrically charged particles) and they are heading to the earth.
The first discovered hole is what caused a solar storm and the spectacular Northern lights on the 24th of March. The solar winds from the second observed hole are heading to earth at a speed of 1.8 million miles per hour and are supposed to reach earth on Friday, causing a geomagnetic storm.
Talking about Coronal holes, they aren’t holes like the name suggests. Here hole refers to a region that appears dark and is magnetically open which causes them to release high-speed solar winds.
These appear on the sun’s surface and are relatively cooler and less dense when compared to the rest of the sun, it is a dead region.
It is a known fact that the sun is made up of plasma material, this plasma vigorously moves from inside the sun to its surface. During this process, a magnetic field is created, and the vigorous moment causes the magnetic field lines to swell, merge and crash.
And when these magnetic lines shoot straight up into space, it causes an easier escape of solar winds and small bits of plasma material to escape into space at a very high speed. And those spots where all this happens are called ‘Coronal holes.
Coronal holes & Solar storms
Usually, coronal holes occur at the poles of the sun, allowing the emitted solar winds to escape into space and not toward the planets. But now that these holes appeared on the surface of the sun, the high-speed solar winds are heading to the earth and this might cause a geomagnetic storm.
The solar winds released by the coronal holes are two times faster than the average ones. Solar winds are nothing but high-speed electrically charged particles that come from inside the sun.
When a coronal hole is formed, the solar winds choose the open magnetic lines to travel from inside the sun. The open magnetic lines at the coronal hole point directly outside and the surface of the hole is thinner and less dense when compared to the rest of the area, this makes it easier for the winds to escape from here.
Solar winds and their effect on Earth
The first coronal hole observed on 23rd March 2023 caused a solar storm on March 24, 2023, and that was the most powerful solar storm in the previous six years.
The solar winds that are heading towards the earth might have an effect on the earth’s magnetic field and cause a disturbance. These high-speed winds create a storm that results in the formation of stunning auroras.
But if the storms are strong enough, then they might cause severe damage to the technology. The damage can be large-scale power outages and damage to GPS communications. And the major problem is, it might disable the satellite system permanently.
And now that another hole was observed on the sun’s surface, we are likely to be hit by a second solar storm this week and it is expected to be on Friday. Let us see if this is going to cause any change in our planet.