Material from a filament of plasma erupting from the Sun’s surface broke away and appeared to form a crown-like vortex over the solar north pole.
Further analysis will be required to determine whether or not this is what actually occurred.
For now, scientists are saying that they’ve not quite seen anything like it – and the footage itself is undoubtedly spectacular.
Solar shenanigans are not entirely unexpected currently. Our star is ramping up its activity, getting rowdier with sunspot and flare activity. It has flared every day this year so far, and it spat out several X-class and M-class flares in January 2023, the biggest and second-biggest eruptions the Sun is capable of.
This is nothing to be alarmed about. The Sun undergoes activity cycles every 11 or so years, from relatively quiet and peaceful, to absolutely rambunctious.
These cycles coincide with fluctuations in the solar magnetic field. When the magnetic field is at its weakest at the poles, the Sun’s magnetic poles switch places, and the polarity of the magnetic field reverses. This is when the Sun is at its most active, known as solar maximum.
We’re right on the cusp of solar maximum. Because the Sun is so enigmatic and difficult to predict, we don’t know precisely when the polarity reversal will occur (scientists can usually only make a ruling after the event), but we do know a rough ballpark: Our current predictions place it in July 2025.
But the current cycle is also a bit strange. Not all solar cycles are built alike; some are stronger, some are weaker. Solar scientists can make predictions about the progression of the solar cycle ahead… but from very early on in the current cycle, which started in December 2019, the Sun’s activity has significantly exceeded expectations and continues to do so….