The sun, otherwise known as that hot ball of gas keeping us all alive, is occasionally pretty creepy. Late last month, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observed a rare kind of particle cloud on the sun. While it’s not dangerous, it’s certainly spooky.
According to NASA, the spacecraft spotted “a dark filament encircling an active region” between October 29 and 31, 2017. Filaments are stringy, elongated clouds of charged particles that hang out above the sun. The filaments aren’t themselves rare, but NASA says the shape of this one is — apparently, the circular cloud was spotted around a coronal hole, or a region where the sun’s corona is dark. Not many spacecraft have captured this kind of activity before, and the results certainly make for a solid desktop background.
Besides doing all sorts of weird spooky swirly things, the sun’s been pretty busy in these last few months. According to NASA’s official twitter account for the sun, the gasa-ball released “31 sizable solar flares” over just five days in September. Solar flares are explosions of radiation — if they’re strong enough, can impact power grids and communications here on Earth.
Earthlings have no reason to be concerned about this weird circular filament on the sun. Even NASA is hilariously ¯_(ツ)_/¯ about it.
“While it may have no scientific value, it is noteworthy because of its rarity,” NASA said in a statement about the sighting. Roasted.
In short, weird circles on the sun pose no immediate threat to humanity, but they do serve as a great reminder of how small and insignificant we are within the grandeur of the universe. Hurray for humility!