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Huge square-shaped ‘coronal hole’ spotted on Sun (VIDEO)

Published time: May 13, 2014 12:00
NASA / SDO / GODDARD SPACE CENTER

NASA / SDO / GODDARD SPACE CENTER

A gigantic square hole has been video-captured on the Sun’s surface by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The particularly large monstrosity, known as a “coronal hole”, is an indicator of solar winds ejected out of the star at insane speeds.

The find by the space agency’s spacecraft was made between Monday and Wednesday last week, with a video put together to illustrate the sheer size of the thing.

The hole in the star’s atmosphere owes its dark appearance due to NASA’s usage of an ultraviolet filter to be able to peer at the star’s details; the square sun spot appears so because it emits less light in that particular spectrum.

"Inside the coronal hole you can see bright loops where the hot plasma outlines little pieces of the solar magnetic field sticking above the surface… Because it is positioned so far south on the sun, there is less chance that the solar wind stream will impact us here on Earth,” the SDO team assured in the video description.

The SDO isn’t the only spacecraft out there keeping a watchful eye on the awesome thing that gives us all life – there are a few others. If science is correct, we’re already past the worst-case scenarios, as far as infrastructure-damaging solar storms go… at least for now. It was last year that the Sun had reached the end of its magnetic swap cycle. Every 11 years our star switches magnetic poles – a process that, akin to a rubber band that is slowly winding and tightening around a ball, ends in an abrupt snap. The star then hurtles huge amounts of radiation towards Earth, which could potentially send us back to the Stone Age by wiping out our electrical grid.

The trouble with the Sun is that, despite our best mathematical models and predictions, it’s a wildly unpredictable ball of fire, which often chooses not to follow a specific schedule.

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