Image of ‘smiling’ sun will create storm to hit Earth

When you smile, the world smiles with you. When the sun smiles, the world will be bathed in plasma waves.

This image was taken on October 26 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a satellite that has been recording solar activity since February 2010. The picture shows three sunspots of different shapes in the sun’s atmosphere. Looking at it, you will imagine the smiling “Sun Man” with button eyes and a triangular mouth.

In fact, these dark spots are coronal holes—the regions in the outermost part of the sun’s corona, or atmosphere, from which the solar wind spills out into space.

Just as sunspots are dark spots of turbulent magnetic activity that occurs on the surface of the sun, coronal holes are black because they are cooler than the plasma that surrounds them. From these cool inlets, the sun’s constant stream of charged particles travels into space at speeds in excess of 1.6 million km/h.

We can see the circular holes forming the smiling sun shape because the solar wind from these holes blows directly towards Earth. Astronomers believe that electrical winds will hit Earth’s magnetic field today and tomorrow (October 29-30), potentially triggering small storms from the sun.

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The weakest grade of geomagnetic storms – G1 – can interfere with orbiting satellites and cause small grid fluctuations on Earth. However, these storms can also push auroras to lower latitudes than usual, giving many skywatchers a chance to see solar particles leap through Earth’s atmosphere.

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This isn’t the first instance of hallucinations in the universe — the illusion of seeing human faces everywhere. Scientists have previously drawn nebulae together to create the shape of the monster “Godzilla” in space.