A HOLE IN THE SUN’S ATMOSPHERE: A large hole in the sun’s atmosphere is facing Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind in our direction. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring the structure, shown here in a false-color UV image taken on Dec. 6th:
The hole (technical term: “coronal hole”) is so large it almost completely bisects the solar disk, stretching more than a million km across the sun’s equator.
We’ve seen this coronal hole before. It has been spinning around with the sun, lashing Earth with solar wind approximately once a month since September. Last month, the lashing commenced on Nov. 9th, lasted for alnost 3 days, and caused sharp tremors in the geomagnetic field. Solar winds blowing faster than 600 km/s sparked an explosion of Phoenix-shaped auroras over Norway:
“The display over Senja, Norway, on Nov. 11th was nothing short of magical,” recalls photographer Adrien Mauduit. “Huge colorful pillars took the shape of a fiery bird.”
The same stream of solar wind will return on Dec. 8th or 9th and it may be even more potent this time because the underlying coronal hole has hrown larger in the intervening month. Arctic sky watchers, mark your calendars and warm your cameras. The Phoenix might rise again.