A coronal hole almost 20 TIMES the size of Earth has opened on the surface of the Sun, releasing particles into the cosmos. The massive hole stretches a staggering 220,000 kilometres across – roughly 18 times larger than Earth’s diameter of 12,700 kilometres. A coronal hole is a region on the Sun’s atmosphere which is colder and more dense than average, and forms as the corona – an aura of plasma which surrounds the Sun – constantly shifts and reshapes.
However, when a coronal hole appears, more solar particles escape from the Sun and are released as solar storms or coronal mass ejections (CME).
Unfortunately for Earth, we are in line with the coronal hole and as it is so massive, there could be solar storms hitting our planet until Friday.
Cosmic forecasting site Space Weather said: “NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of geomagnetic storms this week to 75 percent as a series of CMEs approaches Earth.
“The action begins on May 15th when the first CME is expected to arrive and could continue through May 17th as additional CMEs follow.
“Storms levels will almost certainly reach category G1 (minor) with isolated periods of G2 (moderate) storming as well.”
A G2 storm can threaten Earth’s technology as it can cause a ‘brown out’ for radio frequencies – making radio communication much more difficult, and can also cause power outages in high-latitude areas.
As solar particles hit Earth, its atmosphere can expand, as they heat the outer layer of it.
As the atmosphere expands, satellite signals make it much more difficult to reach the ground, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.
Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blow outs and a loss of power.
The strong shower of solar particles could also cause northern lights.
Auroras, which include northern lights – aurora borealis – and southern lights – aurora australis, are caused when solar particles hit the atmosphere.
As the magnetosphere gets bombarded by solar winds, stunning blue lights can appear as that layer of the atmosphere deflects the particles.