The irregularly shaped hole spans about 400,000 kilometers (250,000 miles) at its widest point, said Dr. C. Alex Young, associate director for science for the heliophysics division at the space agency's Goddard facility in Greenbelt, Maryland. Its total surface area is about 410 times that of the Earth, he said (see below for size comparison).
For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.
"NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere," said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.
A monster solar flare erupted early Sunday (Oct. 19) from a huge sunspot that may just be getting warmed up.
The sun fired off an X-class solar flare — the most powerful type — that peaked at 1:01 a.m. EDT (5:01 GMT) Sunday. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft captured photos and video of the intense sun storm, which researchers classified as an X1.1 flare.
The flare erupted from a sunspot called AR (Active Region) 2192, which has since grown to become 78,000 miles (125,000 kilometers) wide, according to Spaceweather.com — almost as big as the planet Jupiter.