The picture above was captured on June 18 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Those blue parts you see are called coronal holes which are predominant on the left quadrant of the sun.

A coronal hole is an area of the sun where the magnetic field opens up allowing the release of materials. Just imagine yourself pricking a balloon that you see the helium slowly releasing. Well, it’s not that our sun will shrink like a balloon, but the coronal hole will remain and will release solar winds traveling as fast as up to 500 miles per second. The solar winds will go anywhere in the solar system in all directions.

Coronal holes are formed when the sun’s magnetic field is exposed to interplanetary space where there other solar magnetic fields as well allowing the materials to escape because of the pull from the other magnetic field source. People were not aware of these holes until the 1970s when the first clear images of it were taken by the Skylab space station.

Coronal holes and Earth

NASA posted on their website that the coronal holes captured through images this year were by far the largest. They now warned people that these enormous coronal holes can cause auroras and solar storms. While the auroras are pretty normal, it is the solar storms that may cause disturbances on Earth’s magnetic field.

Back in 1989, NASA recorded a powerful solar storm in Quebec which caused disruptions in the power grids. It was succeeded by disruptions in the communication and navigation satellites as well. NASA didn’t confirm that it may happen again but the worse we may experience is another episode of a temporary communication blackout. The only confirmation they gave was there will be more aurora borealis this year.