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NASA Reveals Images of Gaping "Hole" in the Sun [VIDEO]

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Jun 04, 2013 05:32 PM EDT
Coronal Hole
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped images of a gaping hole in the Sun. Known as a “coronal hole” the images of the well-known phenomenon are noteworthy because they offer a glimpse of the largest coronal hole to be observed in more than a year. (Photo : NASA SDO)

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped images of a gaping "hole" in the Sun. Known as a "coronal hole" the images of the well-known phenomenon are noteworthy because they offer a glimpse of the largest coronal hole to be observed in more than a year.

Strong solar wind gusts are thought to originate from coronal holes, and NASA reports that winds from this extensive hole will likely generate aurora on Earth.

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The images of the coronal hole, taken last week between May 28 and May 31, are composites of images takes with three ultraviolet filters.

Coronal holes are linked to the Sun's magnetic fields. When a solar magnetic field line is looped between two poles, or "closed," it is associated with the bright displays of superheated gases that generate huge volumes of radiation produced by plasma heated to millions of degrees. When we observe this radiation in ultraviolet light it appears as a brilliant pyroclastic spectacle, as seen in the bright regions in the photo above.

But when magnetic field lines are "open," only one end of the magnetic field line is tethered to the sun, causing solar energy to shoot out into space. Accounted for together, whole regions of open magnetic field lines form coronal holes.

The regions appear as a dark "hole"  in the ultraviolet images because there is comparatively very low density of the plasma in the dark regions than in the bright regions in the UV images. 

When directed towards Earth, the solar winds generated by the coronal holes usually reach the planet in two or three days.

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