Scientists recorded an unprecedented and inexplicable solar phenomenon that had a solar flare creating a ‘crown’ around the sun’s northern pole. This image appears to correspond to a Midrash description of how the sun looked like when it was created and how it will appear in the end of days.
Earlier this month, astronomers recorded a video showing that a huge section of the sun had broken off, creating a filament of plasma. The filament rose to the sun’s pole and circled it, forming what some scientists described as a “crown-like vortex over the solar north pole”.
The incident was caught by NASA’s James Webb telescope and shared on Twitter by Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather forecaster. The material seemed to break away, circling the pole at 60 degrees latitude over about 8 hours, at a speed of about 96 kilometers (60 miles) per second.
Scientists said they have never witnessed anything like this and they are unsure what caused it. The sun has been particularly active recently and has flared every day this year so far, sending out several X-class and M-class flares, the biggest and second-biggest eruptions the Sun is capable of. It is believed that the sun undergoes such increased activity, referred to as the solar maximum, every eleven years coinciding with fluctuations in the solar magnetic field. This is believed to happen when the sun reverses its magnetic poles and the polarity of the magnetic field reverses.
Midrash actually describes the sun and the moon as having royal crowns. The Talmud (Hulin 60b) discusses the seeming contradiction in the verse describing the creation of the sun and the moon.
Hashem made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. Genesis 1:16
Though initially described in equal terms, the verse then noted the sun and the moon were not equal, with the sun being called the “greater light” and the moon the “lesser light”. The Talmud explains that when God created the sun and the moon they were equal in every manner, including size and intensity. The moon complained, saying, “Two kings cannot share one crown.” God agreed and made the moon shine less intensely, compensating the moon by commanding Israel to set the calendar by its cycles.
Reish Lakish explained in the Talmud that every new moon, a public sin offering was brought to atone for this injustice. Jewish mysticism explains that this slight to the moon will be rectified at the end of days when the sun and the moon will be equal in both size and intensity.
This Midrash is reflected in science. The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun but they appear to be the same size in the sky. This is because the sun is approximately 400 times farther away from the earth than the moon. No other planet in our solar system has solar eclipses because the odds of this happening precisely as it does on Earth are so infinitesimally small. Since the sun and the moon appear to be the same size when viewed from the earth, solar eclipses, caused by the moon blocking out the sun when it passes between the sun and the earth, can occur. Scientists have yet to discover another planet that has solar eclipses. Astronomers call this Earth’s ‘grand coincidence’.
The moon is, in fact, moving away from the Earth at the rate of one centimeter every year, and in the future, the moon will appear smaller in the sky, and solar eclipses, unique as they are, will be a thing of the past.
Prophet Malachi describes the sun’s destructive power.
For lo! That day is at hand, burning like an oven. All the arrogant and all the doers of evil shall be straw, and the day that is coming—said the lord of Hosts—shall burn them to ashes and leave of them neither stock nor boughs. Malachi 3:19
The medieval French Biblical commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known by the acronym Rashi, explained the verse in Malachi.
Lo, I will send the Navi Eliyahu to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of Hashem. Malachi 3:23
The ‘Day of God’ [described in verse 19] is the result of God’s taking out the Sun from its sheath,” Rashi wrote, describing the removal of an existing cover protecting the earth from the full light of the Sun.