The hole, known as a coronal hole, has emerged on the upper atmosphere on the sun, unleashing a barrage of cosmic particles towards Earth. Experts say this type of hole is common during a solar minimum – a period of time when the sun releases less cosmic rays, which is happening now – but this time the hole is “a big one”. The researchers predict that a solar storm could hit Earth by February 27.
Space forecasting website Space Weather said: “During solar minimum, long-lasting holes open in the sun’s atmosphere, releasing streams of solar wind into space.
“One of those holes is facing Earth now, and it’s a big one.
“We’ve seen this hole before. It opened in the summer of 2018 and has been spinning around as the sun rotates, lashing Earth with solar wind approximately once a month.
“The last time our planet felt its gaseous emissions, in late Jan 2019, bright auroras surged around the Arctic Circle and some of the lights even spilled into the USA.”
While this solar storm is not dangerous, the consequences could be far more serious than the appearance of the Northern or Southern Lights.
For the most part, the Earth’s magnetic field protects humans from the barrage of radiation, but solar storms can affect satellite-based technology.
Solar winds can heat the Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.
This can affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.
Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blow outs and a loss of power.
The higher amounts of radiation also leave people vulnerable to cancer.