Big chunk of Sun breaks off, leaving scientists baffledtext_fields
The Sun has been long revered as the most important part of the solar system. Life on Earth will not exist without the ever-burning star. With scientists trying harder to study the Sun, a new development has left everyone shocked.
A huge chunk of the Sun broke off of its surface. The incident created a tornado-like swirl around the star's North Pole. Scientists haven't been able to conclude yet how this happened. The space community is confused and stunned after the video of the development was uploaded on social media.
In the video, a prominence (solar flare)- a large bright feature extending outward from the Sun's surface - is seen.
The rare event was recorded by NASA"s James Webb telescope. Space weather forecaster Dr Tamitha Skov shared the video on Twitter last week and wrote: "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. Implications for understanding the Sun's atmospheric dynamics above 55 degrees here cannot be overstated!"
"More observations of the #SolarPolarVortex revealed it took roughly 8 hours for material to circumnavigate the pole at approximately 60-degree latitude. This means an upper bound in the estimation of horizontal wind speed in this event is 96 kilometers per second or 60 miles a second!" she said in another tweet.
Flares and vortexes are not entirely new to the scientific community but the latest one has left everyone in shock. Solar physicist Scott McIntosh of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research told Space.com that he has never seen a "vortex" like this one which occurred when a piece of the prominence broke away and was whipped into the solar atmosphere. He has been observing the Sun for decades. "Something odd is happening at the Sun's 55-degree latitudes with clockwork regularity once every solar cycle, the 11-year period characterized by an ebb and flow in the generation of sunspots and eruptions," he added.
McIntosh described the prominence as a "hedgerow in the solar plasma". It appears exactly at the 55-degree latitude around the Sun's polar crowns every 11 years. Scientists believe that it is linked to the reversal of the Sun's magnetic field which happens once every solar cycle. However, no one knows what causes it.
"It's very curious. There is a big 'why' question around it. Why does it only move toward the pole one time and then disappear and then come back, magically, three or four years later in exactly the same region?" asked the expert. He also noted that humans can only observe the Sun from the ecliptic plane - the plane in which planets orbit.
Solar flares sometimes affect communications on Earth. The latest development has worried experts for the same reason.