NASA's new sun photo shows massive coronal hole

This week, NASA published an incredible photo of our sun, and within the image we see a giant, somewhat jagged black void. That dark spot is a big coronal hole, according to the space agency, an area on the sun where "the magnetic field is open to interplanetary space." It looks frightening, but is nothing to worry about; according to NASA, the photo was taken by its Solar Dynamics Observatory on October 10.

The photo, shown in full below and in high-resolution here, was taken in 193 Angstroms wavelengths, says NASA — that's invisible to our human eyes, but as with most space images, post-processing was used to color in the image so we can better visual the data. In cases like this, NASA says bronze is typically the color of choice.

The dark spot is ejecting coronal material outward, forming a high-speed solar wind stream. The wind stream comes from the hole itself, which is an outstanding 50 Earths in size — meaning you could fit a few dozen of our own planet just in the dark spot on the sun.

The hole has a nice effect for those on Earth — it is causing auroras which have been happening for several nights in a row. There is a downside, though, in that such events can also cause disruptions to satellites and radios, among other things. The latter is usually minor in nature, and most people won't notice either way.