Solar storm DANGER! NASA spots giant hole on Sun blasting solar winds towards Earth

Solar storm threat looms on the Earth as a massive coronal hole opens up on the Sun and spews fast-moving solar winds towards the Earth. NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory has detected the development.

| Updated on: Mar 21 2023, 12:16 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
Solar winds
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NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory spots a gigantic hole on the Sun which is blasting a stream of solar wind toward the Earth. (NASA SDO)

Yesterday, March 20, it was reported that the Earth may suffer a glancing blow from an incoming coronal mass ejection (CME) today. While astronomers keep an eye out on its development, a far more concerning development has been spotted on the Sun. The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory has detected a large hole in the Sun's atmosphere which is spewing a stream of solar winds. This solar wind is expected to reach our planet between March 23 and 24, and can cause another powerful solar storm event. Things can worsen if there is any incoming CME on that day as the resultant effect would be multiplied due to the effect of solar winds. Check details.

The development was reported by which noted on its website, “A large hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. This is a "coronal hole" -- a region in the sun's atmosphere where magnetic fields open up and allow solar wind to escape”.

Solar winds to strike the Earth soon

While solar winds hitting the Earth is a pretty common event, the timing for this one makes it concerning. As this wave of fast-moving solar winds is expected to hit just days after the vernal equinox, the Earth would be pretty vulnerable to it due to cracks forming on its magnetosphere. This will result in an overall powerful solar storm. This can worsen further in case any incoming CME collides with it. In that case, even a G2 or G3-class solar storm is not out of the question.

Such powerful solar storms usually showcase an intense aurora display. But don't be fooled by the light display as these can cause major harm to our infrastructure. These solar storms can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics.

The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 21 Mar, 12:16 IST
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