Auntie Em, It’s A (Solar) Twister!

By David Wharton | 9 years ago

The surface of the sun is, let’s face it, not the most hospitable of vacation destinations. Not only do you have to find a sunscreen strong enough to protect from the balmy temperatures (5778 K or so), you’ve also got to avoid all the tornados. Wait, what?

Don’t worry, backseat meteorologists, it’s just a metaphor. The “solar twister” I’m describing can be seen in a video released by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which recently celebrated its second anniversary of doing something our mothers all warned us against — staring at the sun. In the spectacular video below, you can see the “tornado” in question, which is actually caused by “gyrating streams of plasma” of varying temperatures getting yanked about by competing magnetic forces above the sun’s surface. This twister definitely isn’t in Kansas, however, because you could fit all of Kansas inside it…not to mention the rest of the Earth, as well. The video is a time lapse taken over 30 hours on February 7th and 8th. The video is recording “extreme ultraviolet light,” so don’t book a solar sightseeing tour and expect it to look like this in person. You know, for the few brief moments before you burst into flames.

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