While it looks and sounds worrying, there’s nothing to fear here.
A massive new “hole in the sun," or a big patch of black in the corona, was spotted on Monday by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
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.
Yulsman also uploaded a snazzy animation to YouTube, above, which shows SDO images of the hole in sequence.
Here’s one of the new images released by NASA:
(Story continues below image.)
NASA says these coronal holes can appear for weeks or even months at a time, and can take up as much as a quarter of the sun’s surface.
While a hole in the sun is nothing to be too alarmed over, it can lead to problems here on Earth: Solar winds released from the corona can form solar storms, which can disrupt satellite and radio communication systems.
On the other hand, they can also produce some pretty stunning auroras.