Saturday, February 18, 2012

Solar Tornado

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recently released the following video of a tornado on the surface of the sun. The stunning video shows the sun's plasma sliding and spinning around in the star's magnetic fields for 30 hours earlier this month.

Terry Kucera, a solar physicist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told Fox News that the tornado might be as large as the Earth itself and have gusts up to 300,000 miles per hour. By comparison, the strongest tornadoes on earth, F5 storms, clock wind speeds at a relatively paltry (though incredibly destructive) 300 mph.

The sun is an extremely active star, regularly spitting radiation and atomic particles into space. This space weather has direct impacts here on Earth, like forcing the rerouting of planes and lighting up the auroras.

(copied from NPR)

The Solar Dynamics Observatory, by the way, has a very interesting web site.