Something Strange Is Happening on the Sun, and We’ve Never Seen It Before – DNyuz

Something Strange Is Happening on the Sun, and We’ve Never Seen It Before

This past week, a part of the sun’s surface broke off and started circling the sun’s north pole almost as if it were a giant polar vortex–and scientists don’t know why.

Space weather forecaster Tamitha Skov posted a video of the phenomena to Twitter, sharing her excitement.

“Talk about Polar Vortex! She wrote that material from a northern prominence has just broken away from its main filament and is now swirling in a huge polar vortex at the North Pole of the Star. “Implications for understanding the Sun’s atmospheric dynamics above 55deg here cannot be overstated!”

The find is just the latest in a series of interesting space observations thanks to the capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope. According to NASA, solar prominence is a large bright feature that extends outward from the Sun’s surface. The prominences are made of hydrogen and Helium. They usually explode when an unstable structure bursts and releases 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 but notes that something odd usually happens at the sun’s 55 degree latitudes once every solar cycle.

Solar cycles are periodic 11-year changes in the Sun’s activity. Things like solar radiation and ejections of solar material, solar spots, solar flares and sunspots all fluctuate over this time. McIntosh described the northern prominence as a “hedgerow in the solar plasma”, which does appear exactly at the same spot around the sun’s polar crown every 11 years. Although scientists have seen such hedgerows in the solar plasma, they never lead to polar whirlwinds like this one.

Scientists think the phenomena has to do with the reversal of the sun’s magnetic field–and believe that the polar region is very important in generating the magnetic field–but they don’t know what the exact cause is.

“Once every solar cycle, it forms at the 55 degree latitude and it starts to march up to the solar poles,” McIntosh told It’s quite curious. There is a big ‘why’ question around it. 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. McIntosh thinks that we may need another mission to understand the Sun’s behavior. The ongoing Solar Orbiter mission of the European Space Agency might provide some insights. It takes images from inside the orbit of Mercury and can only observe the Sun from there.

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