NASA scientists discovered a massive coronal hole appearing on the Sun’s south pole. A coronal hole is a phenomenon that occurs when a black spot appears on the Sun’s surface. Researchers at this point aren’t completely clear of the cause behind it though it’s believed that the hole is caused by particles dispersing at high speeds of up to 500 miles per hour.

The Sun gets its bright color from trapped and condensed particles. Coronal holes contain very little of the particles and are therefore much darker in appearance as well as much cooler.

Coronal holes appear every now and then and have been observed to remain in place for as long as five years. They do, however, alter in shape and size during that time. It’s also believed that the Sun’s coronal holes can have a direct impact on Earth. The dispersal of the particles is believed to be responsible for auroras and geometric storms that appear on the planet’s atmosphere.

The coronal hole detected this time around is a lot bigger than those previously observed, leaving scientists perplexed.

The Sun’s surface is very volatile, and abrupt changes can give it an appearance that is truly a spectacle for scientists and regular folks alike. In October and just in time for Halloween, the Sun’s blistering hot surface created storms and flares that created a form of what some say resemble a jack-o-lantern.

Here is another interesting fact about the Sun: In about 1.75 billion years, the Sun will destroy all life on Earth. As a star ages, it begins to lose hydrogen and creates more helium, thus raising its temperature. The heat will become so intense that it will dry up all the liquid on Earth and make the planet completely uninhabitable. Of course, if humans are still around by then, one would assume that they would become advanced enough for interstellar travel and establishing civilization on other planets.

In regards to the coronal hole, it remains one of the Sun’s many amazing phenomena that make you realize how much little we know about our own cosmic backyard.

[photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight’s Photostream]