The gigantic hole in the sun, hovering over the solar north pole, has been photographed by the SOHO spacecraft. This dark spot, which covers almost a quarter of the sun, is a large ‘coronal hole’ – a dark, low density region of the sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona. Continue reading for the video and more information.

While the hole looks devoid of solar activity, it was in fact releasing violent blasts of solar wind and spewing out solar particles at around 500 miles per second.

The holes have lower temperatures and therefore appear much darker than their surroundings. The sun’s activity cycle is currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, predicted for late 2013 – during which time the number of coronal holes decreases.