An intense picture of a coronal hole on the sun was captured by United States space agency NASA on New Year’s Day, welcoming the New Year.
“There were no fireworks on the sun to welcome in the New Year and only a few C-class flares during the last day of 2014. Instead, the sun starts 2015 with an enormous coronal hole near the south pole,” the agency said in a statement.
The coronal hole in the picture is the dark region in the south.
“Coronal holes are regions of the corona where the magnetic field reaches out into space rather than looping back down onto the surface. Particles moving along those magnetic fields can leave the sun rather than being trapped near the surface,” the agency explained.
“Those trapped particles can heat up and glow, giving us the lovely AIA images. In the parts of the corona where the particles leave the sun, the glow is much dimmer and the coronal hole looks dark.”
Coronal holes were seen for the first time in images taken by astronauts in 1973.
In the current solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24, fades, the number of solar flares each day will decrease, but the coronal holes will stay around for a while–the polar coronal hole can remain visible for five years or longer.