Tornadoes on the Sun: Massive Tornadoes Found in Solar Atmosphere
Solar Tornadoes several times wider than the earth have been found on the Sun's surface. A video below shows the footage a NASA spacecraft captured of the tornado on the sun's surface.
A NASA spacecraft has captured video of a massive solar "tornado" five times wider than the Earth twisting its way across the surface of the sun.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) looked on as the huge, swirling storm raged on Sept. 25, 2011, spinning solar gas at speeds up to 186,000 mph (300,000 kph), researchers said. Here on Earth tornado wind speeds top out at around 300 mph (483 kph).
"This is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager," Xing Li of Aberystwyth University in Wales, who analyzed the SDO footage, said in a statement. "Previously, much smaller solar tornadoes were found by the [NASA/European Space Agency] SOHO satellite. But they were not filmed."
Li and other researchers will present a movie of the tornado Thursday (March 29) at the 2012 National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester, the United Kingdom.
The tornadoes often occur at the root of huge coronal mass ejections. When heading toward the Earth, these coronal mass ejections can cause significant damage to the earth’s space environment, satellites, even knock out the electricity grid.
The solar tornadoes drag winding magnetic field and electric currents into the high atmosphere. It is possible that the magnetic field and currents play a key role in driving the coronal mass ejections.
The sun is currently in an active period of its 11-year weather cycle. The current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24 and will peak in 2013. The tornadoes occuring on the sun are fiery plasma-like whirlwinds several times as big as the earth. You can get just a glimpse of how blazingly furious these things really are.