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Lost, internet down, blame the Sun

by on31 March 2023

Holy sun Batman

If your Internet and phone service is pants today it might have something to do with a triangular-shaped dark gap in the sun's surface that's 20 times larger than Earth.

This enormous coronal hole has unleashed 1.8-million-mile-per-hour solar winds toward our planet and will batter the earth like a Scottish Mars bar.

These are common and not going to mean the end of the world. In fact, in some parts of the world, they cause natural light displays called auroras in the sky. But solar winds can also disrupt satellites in space, power grids, and GPS navigation systems.

The new coronal hole follows an even bigger one – around 30 times the size of Earth – that was spotted on March 23, which released solar winds that triggered stunning auroras as far south as Arizona.

NASA's Skylab first spotted coronal holes in the early 1970s, but boffins still need to understand what causes them to form.

They may appear at any time of the solar cycle – the cycle that the sun's magnetic field goes through about every 11 years – but they are most common during the cycle’s declining phase.

The current solar cycle numbered 25, started in 2019, and is expected to continue until about 2030.


Last modified on 31 March 2023
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