Scientists left dumb-founded as large part of sun's surface has broken off

By Jack Peat

February 9, 2023 at 10:00am


Not to alarm anyone but... the sun might be broken

Scientists say they are baffled after a large part of the sun’s surface broke off and started circling the star's north pole.

Space weather forecaster Tamitha Skov posted a video of the phenomena to Twitter after NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope made the unprecedented observation.

It has left scientists both concerned and excited, as well as a bit, well... baffled.

“Talk about Polar Vortex! Material from a northern prominence just broke away from the main filament & is now circulating in a massive polar vortex around the north pole of our Star,” Skov wrote. “Implications for understanding the Sun's atmospheric dynamics above 55° here cannot be overstated!”

According to NASA, solar prominence is a large bright feature that extends outward from the Sun's surface.

Prominences consist of hydrogen and helium, and usually erupt when a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.

Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist and deputy director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, told that he has never seen a vortex like this.

"It's very curious. There is a big 'why' question around it", he said.

"Why does it only move toward the pole one time and then disappears and then comes back, magically, three or four years later in exactly the same region?"

McIntosh also said that it’s a region that cannot be directly observed, as scientists can only observe the sun from the ecliptic plane, or what the planets orbit.

An early working hypothesis is that it could have something to do with the reversal of the sun’s magnetic field, but scientists are still unsure as to what exactly caused it.


This article originally appeared on JOE UK

Header image via Shutterstock & Twitter/TamithaSkov

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