A 2nd Giant ‘Hole’ has Appeared on the Sun and It Could Send 1.8 Million-Mph Solar Winds Toward Earth


A second enormous “hole” has emerged on the surface of the sun, which could send a solar wind of 1.8 million miles per hour toward Earth by Friday.

The coronal hole, measuring approximately 18 to 20 times the size of Earth, is coming into view as the first one rotates away from us.

Coronal holes on the sun release solar winds that can potentially damage satellites and create breathtaking auroras when they reach Earth.

While scientists are not concerned about the second hole causing infrastructure damage, they believe it may contribute to the appearance of auroras in some regions of the planet. These holes are not unusual, but they usually appear near the poles of the sun, where their winds are expelled into space. However, as the sun approaches its peak activity, which occurs roughly every 11 years, these holes are more likely to appear close to the sun’s equator.

Mathew Owens, a professor of space physics at the University of Reading, explains, “This one being at the equator means we’re pretty much guaranteed to see some fast wind at Earth a couple of days after it rotates past central meridian.” The solar winds emitted by coronal holes can be highly intense, with speeds exceeding 800 kilometers per second, equivalent to 1.8 million mph.

Although the shape of this particular coronal hole is unremarkable, its location makes it significant. Daniel Verscharen, an associate professor of space and climate physics at University College London, says, “I would expect some fast wind from that coronal hole to come to Earth around Friday night into Saturday morning of this week.”

Coronal holes are openings in the sun’s magnetic field, which make it simpler for solar winds, composed of bits of plasma from the sun, to escape into space at high speeds. They are typically cooler and less dense than the surrounding hot, churning plasma, which explains why they appear as darker spots on photographs of the sun. When these magnetic lines point toward Earth, the resulting wind can collide with our atmosphere and trigger a space-weather event.

Verscharen adds, “If it is oriented in the southward direction, we’re more likely to have a space-weather event, but we don’t know that yet.” When these winds interact with our charged atmosphere, they can make auroras brighter, although they are not visible in warmer regions like Florida. In some cases, these winds can generate geomagnetic storms that can disrupt satellites, infrastructure, and radio signals.

Last week, brilliant auroras were visible as far south as Arizona, but it was not solely due to the coronal hole. Several coronal mass ejections occurred around the same time, throwing huge amounts of plasma into space and creating a massive geomagnetic storm. However, experts believe that it is unlikely to happen again with this coronal hole, which is unfortunate for aurora enthusiasts but good news for planetary defense.

Owens suggests, “I doubt it will result in too much excitement, unless we just so happen to get an Earth-directed CME around the same time.” Despite the fact that space weather prediction and forecasting capabilities are still lagging, scientists are working tirelessly to better understand space weather.

They are employing theoretical physics, plasma simulations on supercomputers, and cutting-edge observations from the latest spacecraft, such as the joint ESA-NASA mission Solar Orbiter, to improve forecasting and prediction capabilities.

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