A hole in the sun will produce a light show in tonight’s sky due to an increasing of the solar wind’s speed.

The hole is placed in the right side of the sun, where there’s a direct magnetic connection to the Earth that will cause the protons and electrons of the solar wind to light the night sky.

Yari Collado-Vega, space physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, said “events on the sun can accelerate high-energy particles to very high speeds,” and stated that solar-accelerated particles could get up to 80% of the speed of light. This solar wind’s swiftness translates in a more visually stunning spectacle to expect.

Artist’s depiction of solar wind particles interacting with Earth’s magnetosphere. Credit: NASA

When researchers from the NASA first stumbled upon the discovery, they thought fast-moving particles might be a sign of actual snow in space; however, they were soon identified as part of a solar radiation storm.

Scientists believe that the event originated from two slow coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and a low-solar flare. CMEs consist of gas bubbles that are ejected from the sun. According the Marshall Space Flight Center, “Coronal Mass Ejections disrupt the flow of the solar wind and produce disturbances that strike the Earth with sometimes catastrophic results.”

Since the area of the sun in which the event occurred interacts directly with the Earth’s magnetic field, scientists explain that it’s like a large number of fast-moving particles advancing towards the planet at a high speed.

The same researchers, in the other hand, aren’t concerned by this, since the Earth’s magnetic field along with the atmosphere shield us from the radiation these particles produce.

“The anticipated effects from the coronal hole are expected to continue periodically through the first half of today,” said the Space Weather Prediction Center of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The organization also warned about a minor geomagnetic storm in the face of the continuously speeding solar winds — around the number of 500 miles per second.

Researchers explain that holes on the sun’s corona can last months. They can be viewed via X-rays of the sun taken by the NOAA, which can provide information about their development and thus give a hint on Earth’s geomagnetic activity as the holes rotate along the sun.

The White House is less optimistic when looking at the possible consequences that coronal mass ejections could bring. In prevention of a solar storm, the US government elaborated a plan on how to deal with the catastrophic event if it were to occur — in such case, sceneries like a global, month-lasting electricity blackout would be plausible.

Source: ABC.