Not to worry, everything’s under control
Every once in awhile, the Sun develops a huge “hole” — a dark patch in its outer atmosphere, or corona, like the one visible above.
This is the Sun, as seen today by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
I’ve posted about these coronal holes before, but I really like this animation, as well as the one below offering a visualization of what’s actually going on.
SEE ALSO: The Sun blows its top — again
A coronal hole is a place where where the Sun’s magnetic field opens out into interplanetary space, allowing hot material from the corona to speed outward. As a result, these areas have very little hot plasma compared to their hotter, brighter surroundings. So they appear much darker.
In the animation above, acquired by the SDO spacecraft on June 16th, the Sun is once again seen in extreme ultraviolet light, highlighting the corona. A coronal hole is evident here too. This animation also adds a map of the Sun’s magnetic field lines.
Those lines are tightly bundled near the brighter active regions in the corona. Here, the Sun’s magnetic field is particularly intense. Meanwhile, the magnetic lines from the coronal hole clearly open out into space, allowing hot particles to stream outward.
The result: a relatively cool, dark “hole.”