On February 2, 2023, NASA cameras captured a scene of the sun breaking off and getting sucked into a polar vortex. Visually, this means that a piece of the sun strung away from the surface and started swirling around like a tornado at the sun’s north pole.
Believe it or not, it’s actually a normal occurrence. To personify it, the sun has “mood swings” every 11 years alternating between sluggish and idle to active and stormy. Due to the sun’s north and south poles switching every 11 years, the sun’s magnetic field changes as well. Because of this, phenomena like solar flares are frequently observed during the 11th year. However, this particular phenomenon has stumped scientists because it’s bigger than solar prominence.
Solar prominences are large, bright features that extend outward from the sun’s surface at about 55 degrees latitude. The prominences form a loop called a plasma, however, the solar prominence that happened on February 2, 2023, wasn’t like any regular solar prominences—it was more dramatized, thus baffling scientists. We already know that our solar system will one day die when the sun explodes, but will this phenomenon be a leading factor in it? Is the world going to end soon?
The answer is no, according to Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather forecaster. Solar prominences have been happening forever, and very rarely does it actually affect us. The biggest reason that this solar flare “baffled” scientists was because it reached uncommon heights of 60 degrees latitude from the sun’s surface. The plasma of the solar prominence was then caught in an electromagnetic wind and started swirling around in a vortex. This fascinated scientists because it was a phenomenon that was not observed previously.
Our sun is the nearest star to our planet and the only star in our solar system, so when unusual events (like a solar prominence that gets caught in a vortex) occur, then starts trending in science media. As a result, social media over-animate information like this and make dramatic advertisements like “Pieces of the Sun Broken Off!” or “Sun’s Atmosphere Caught in Huge Polar Vortex!” just to get people to actually read the articles.
The bottom line is: do not believe everything you hear from social media. There was an unusual behavior from the sun, but it’s normal and the world won’t end.