Black Hole Sun
The sun’s magnetic field wreaks havoc on the solar atmosphere. At times the magnetic field lines that rise and fall from the surface in giant arcs can become detached at one end. When this happens, a ghostly patch develops in the sun’s upper atmosphere creating what’s known as a coronal hole. Viewed at certain wavelengths, the hole appears black as if it were empty. But, in fact, these holes are a source of strong solar wind, where streams of energized particles shoot out into space. If a hole points toward Earth, a bombardment of particles will reach the planet within two or three days, sometimes resulting in aurorae. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft has observed many coronal holes since its launch in 2010. Watch the video for a close look at one discovered in May 2014.
What’s behind the dark spots in the sun’s atmosphere?
This coronal hole was imaged by SDO's AIA instrument from May 5-7, 2014.
Coronal holes form in the sun’s upper atmosphere, called the corona.
This massive coronal hole was one of the largest seen in 2013.
Coronal holes can span great distances and be found in both hemispheres of the sun.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA/SDO
- Izumi Hansen (Intern) [Lead]