Huge hole in the sun lashes Earth with solar wind (and we could see Northern Lights)

Rob Waugh
Northern lights could light up the sky above Britain tonight (Getty)
Northern lights could light up the sky above Britain tonight (Getty)

Northern lights could blaze in the sky above Britain this week, thanks to a coronal hole in the surface of the sun buffeting our planet with solar winds.

People in northern latitudes might be able to see northern lights or aurora, as particles from the sun hit the Earth, the Met Office has said.

The ‘coronal hole’ appears as a dark area on the sun in certain wavelenghts – and is releasing a ‘significant high speed stream’, the Med Office says.

The Met Office space weather warning says, ‘This activity may well give Minor to Moderate Geomagnetic Storm (G1/G2) periods.


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‘Increased aurora sightings are possible at high latitudes.’

Coronal holes look alarming in the images captured by sun-watching spacecraft such as NASA’s sun-observing Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite – but they’re perfectly safe, and normal.

NASA says, ‘Coronal holes are low-density regions of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona. Because they contain little solar material, they have lower temperatures and thus appear much darker than their surroundings.

‘Coronal holes are visible in certain types of extreme ultraviolet light, which is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in purple for easy viewing.

‘Coronal holes are the source of a high-speed wind of solar particles that streams off the sun some three times faster than the slower wind elsewhere.’