TERRIFYING Solar tornado, 14 times the size of Earth, captured on the Sun’s surface! | Tech News

TERRIFYING Solar tornado, 14 times the size of Earth, captured on the Sun’s surface!

A tornado-like structure extending from the Sun’s surface was captured on video by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory in March.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jun 28 2023, 15:25 IST
Solar prominence
A solar prominence is a huge, bright feature that extends outward from the Sun’s surface. (Andrew McCarthy/Twitter)
Solar prominence
A solar prominence is a huge, bright feature that extends outward from the Sun’s surface. (Andrew McCarthy/Twitter)

Earth has been facing a challenging time in terms of solar activity as solar flares, solar storms, prominences, and other phenomena have plagued the planet. This is perhaps due to the approaching Solar Max and the Sun nearing the peak in its solar cycle. In March, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a video of a solar ‘tornado' erupting from the Sun's surface. While it isn't a rotating tornado like the one which forms on Earth, it was caused by a solar prominence that first began forming on March 14 and then exploded into a fiery cloud, hurling hot plasma into space on March 18.

Stunning solar tornado

According to a report by spaceweather.com, the solar prominence occurred at the Sun's North Pole. It was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, and an amazing video showing the tornado's movement was created by Apollo Lasky of Naperville, Illinois. “I've never seen anything like it in all my years of watching the sun. It never stops--amazing,” Lasky told spaceweather.com.

While this solar prominence did not harm Earth as our planet was not in its way, it was gigantic, with scientists estimating it to be at least 14 Earths tall! While the tornados on Earth are shaped by wind, solar tornados form due to the Sun's magnetism. It is not the plasma that actually rotates, but the magnetic fields, which drag the hot gas and plasma with them. This results in a tornado-like structure extending from the Sun's surface.

What is Solar Prominence?

NASA states that solar prominence is a huge, bright feature that extends outward from the Sun's surface. It is also known as a filament when viewed against the solar disk. Prominences extend outwards into the Corona, the Sun's outer atmosphere, while they are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere. As of now, there is no explanation for how and why solar prominences form.

The solar prominence of March 18 was also captured on video by astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy. In a tweet, McCarthy revealed that his telescope was pointed at the Sun for nearly 3 hours which helped him capture a breathtaking video of the solar prominence in action. “This 14-Earths-tall swirling column of plasma was raining moon-sized gobs of incandescent material on the sun,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter.

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First Published Date: 28 Jun, 15:22 IST
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