Spectacular NASA image shows 'holes' in sun's surface

NASA first spotted coronal holes in the early 1970s

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NASA has spotted a pair of massive holes on the surface of the sun, the larger one covering up to eight percent of the southern pole of the solar surface - or 142 billion square miles.

Responding to the size the agency’s website explained that: “while that may not sound significant, it is one of the largest polar holes scientists have observed in decades.”

The second, smaller coronal hole on the opposite pole, is slightly smaller covering 3.8 Billion square miles, or a 0.16 percent of the sun’s surface, the report added.

“Coronal holes are lower density and temperature regions of the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. Coronal holes can be a source of fast solar wind of solar particles that envelop the Earth,” NASA explains.

NASA first spotted coronal holes in the early 1970s. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this solar image on March 16, 2015, which clearly shows two vast dark areas on the surface of the sun.

Although unclear what causes this to happen, it is known that they are a source of high speed winds of solar particles that emit from the sun’s surface three times faster than other winds and do not loop back down on to the solar surface.

The activity surrounding this phenomenon helps scientists to understand space weather.