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Solar Dynamics Observatory spots giant hole in the sun

The hole released solar winds that spawned auroras on Earth.

By Brooks Hays
Solar Dynamics Observatory spots giant hole in the sun
A sizable coronal hole imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Photo by NASA/SDO

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Over the last week, a sizable gash has marked the surface of the sun. Recently, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took a picture of it.

The gash is known as a coronal hole, which isn't actually a hole at all, but an area of sun's outer layer that appears darker and features colder, less dense, low-energy gas and plasma.

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Coronal holes are caused by anomalies in the sun's magnetic field. As thinner portions of the magnetic field arch away form the corona and open themselves up to interplanetary space, higher-energy solar winds are allowed to escape and stream toward Earth. The escape energy leaves the holes weak and dark.

The solar winds that escaped this particular hole, which measured 50 Earths wide, "created a geomagnetic storm near Earth that resulted in several nights of aurora," according to NASA.

One man in Norway captured both the aurora and a group of basking humpback whales.

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