Earlier this week, a NASA satellite captured an unusual picture of the sun that appeared to be smiling. The agency posted the photo on Twitter on Wednesday, briefly describing what exactly the observed phenomenon is.
Is the sun smiling? NASA explains
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spotted the sun “smiling.” These dark spots in the sun, seen under ultraviolet light, are known as coronal holes. These are the regions where the fast solar wind blasts off into space, the agency wrote.
Coronal holes form in the solar corona where magnetic field lines are open. Solar plasma comes out of it. The charged particles of the solar wind from the three holes are already heading towards Earth. The largest amount of plasma is emitted from the largest smile-like hole.
This phenomenon will have an impact on our planet. A moderate G1 geomagnetic storm is forecast in the coming days, likely to bring the aurora borealis from Iceland through northern Scandinavia and Siberia to Alaska and the Arctic archipelago.
Coronal holes appear relatively frequently in the sun. Sometimes they do not have a significant impact on our planet, and sometimes they are so active that they cause strong geomagnetic storms and disrupt the work of satellites or GPS devices. They are visible in infrared in the pictures.
The photo was taken as part of a special project. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is the agency’s mission to study “space weather” and how solar activity originates. The satellite was launched on February 11, 2010.
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