A 'hole' 30 times Earth's size has spread across the sun, blasting solar winds that'll hit our planet by end of this week

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory discovered a large, dark area of the sun on Monday. This area is known as a coronal hole.

But despite the term, there isn't actually a hole in the solar surface; because coronal holes are cooler than other parts of the sun, they don't shine as brightly and appear black.

According to Alex Young, assistant head for science at NASA Goddard's Heliophysics Science Division, the present coronal hole is between 300,000 and 400,000 kilometers across. "That is roughly 20 to 30 Earths lined up side by side."

There is "nothing unusual here," according to Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist and the assistant head of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who wrote to Insider in an email. Coronal holes are frequent.

Even though holes like this are a normal component of the sun's activity, McIntosh labeled them "the dark side" of solar activity and claimed that they are "not well understood."

According to Young, coronal gaps are the cause of the solar winds, which can travel between 500 and 800 km per second. By the end of this week, the solar particles from this coronal hole are expected to hit Earth.

The high-speed wind's impacts should start to be felt on March 24, according to Young. The ions and magnetic field carried by the high-speed wind will interact with Earth's magnetic field when it gets there, essentially rattling or ringing the planet like a bell.

A coronal mass ejection's stronger magnetic fields, for example, could lead to electrical outages or interfere with communications. However, coronal gaps are much less dramatic, even when they are this big. The aurora borealis will therefore be more colorful this Friday, which is the primary impact to anticipate.

Coronal holes will become less frequent and coronal mass ejections and strong solar outbursts will become more frequent as we move into a new era of rising solar activity, according to Young.

This can be problematic because solar flares and coronal mass ejections have the potential to spike power networks and fry spacecraft, but these occurrences are rare.

Young predicted that as solar activity rises, "it's gonna get more and more exciting and interesting" for him and other solar experts.

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