Tornadoes on the Sun?

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By Noah Bergren on February 18, 2012, 12:00am

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~To the extent of our knowledge, tornadoes only can occur on Earth, right? Well, some recent NASA footage shows elsewhere! These images were captured on February 7th & 8th, and show 'solar twisters' sweeping across the sun's surface at amazing speeds. These so called tornadoes are actually fountains of plasma that are moving across the surface of the sun. Unlike tornadoes on Earth, these "sun tornadoes" are shaped by the magnetic field of the sun. The possible tornado shown is estimated to possibly be as large as Earth itself; and get this, these tornadoes can have wind gusts in excess of 300,000 mph! The NASA Website estimates these "sun tornadoes" to be at a temperature near 15,000 degrees fahrenheit, which is nothing compared to the sun's corona which is around a gigantic 2 million degrees! These tornadoes are not a new occurrence to our sun, they have been around for some time, even as long as decades ago, when the European Space Agency's SOHO captured evidence of their existence in 1996! In the image shown above, the motions that are made from the vortex is just the tornado somehow moving along the sun's magnetic field. This fact still puzzles scientists today to find an answer to how and why these "sun tornadoes" are swirling on the sun's magnetic field so uniformly. These storms can commonly be created by competing magnetic forces in the sun, "which pull charged magnetic particles on the sun's surface back & forth, creating a spinning mass of plasma that tracks along strands of the magnetic fields' lines." [NASA] It is almost mind-boggling to try to imagine these super "sun tornadoes" in real life, spinning at tens of thousands of degrees at speeds of up to 300,000 mph! There currently is a NASA spacecraft constantly recording HD video of the sun's actions, and for signs of more "tornadoes." -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 the year of 2013.

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Noah Bergren

Town: Berlin, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since February 2012.

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