Space

Has the Sun Blown Its Top?

It sure looks that way in this animation showing the Sun up close and personal. And there are two other ‘holes’ visible as well.

It sure looks that way in this animation showing the Sun up close and personal. And there are two other ‘holes’ visible as well.

A big dark area in the north polar region makes it appear as if the Sun has blown its top. And in a way, it has.

You can see what’s going on by watching the animation above. It’s based on data acquired by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft over 48 hours, starting on July 3rd and continuing into today (the 5th). Two other large dark areas are visible as well, including one in the south polar region and another along the equator.

What you’re looking at is a trio of “coronal holes,” dark regions of the corona — the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The images that go into the animation were acquired in the extreme ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which highlights the corona as well as hot plasma from flares.

The dark coronal holes are places where very little radiation is being emitted. Here, the Sun’s magnetic field lines open outward into space. The following image allows us to visualize what that looks like:

In this graphical representation, field lines emerge from the Sun, reach high above it, and then reconnect. But in the polar regions, where two of the coronal holes are located, those field lines open outward.

This opening of the field lines greatly enhances the solar wind, which consists of high energy particles that stream outward into space. With so much hot material blowing outward, a darkened area is left behind — a coronal hole.

Read More

July 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31