Scientists shocked after huge piece of Sun breaks off

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The Sun’s North Pole was surrounded by a tornado-like whirl when a large chunk of its surface broke off. Even though researchers are working to understand how it happened, the video of the event has shocked the space community.

The extraordinary occurrence was captured by NASA’s James Webb telescope and announced last week on Twitter by space weather forecaster Dr. Tamitha Skov. Scientists are particularly concerned about the most recent development since the Sun continues to release solar flares (also known as prominences) that can occasionally interfere with communications on Earth.

“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!” Dr Skov said in a tweet last week.

The prominence, as defined by NASA, is a big luminous feature extending from the Sun’s surface. Although there have been other incidents of this kind, the scientific community is baffled by this one.

“Additional measurements of the #SolarPolarVortex show that material travelled around the pole at a latitude of about 60 degrees in about 8 hours. This suggests that 96 kilometres per second, or 60 miles per second, is the upper bound for the assessment of the horizontal wind speed in this occurrence.” Dr. Skov stated in a later tweet.

A chunk of the prominence broke off and was whipped into the solar atmosphere, causing a “vortex” that had never been seen before, according to solar physicist Scott McIntosh of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, who has been watching the Sun for decades.

Now that the weird occurrence has occurred, space experts are investigating it to learn more about it and paint a clearer picture. Despite being constantly watched, our favourite star continues to surprise us with unexpected events like the numerous strong flares this month that interfered with contact on Earth.

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( With inputs from )

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