I grew up in the middle of tornado alley. That means I spent at least a few hours every year sitting in my bathtub with my family, while my dad held a matress up over our heads. Tornadoes are insanely deadly and they usually come equipped with devastating rain and hail. But at least they aren’t made of fire.
They are made of fire, on the sun, however. We’ve long known that fire tornadoes may occasionally happen on the surface of our sun, but scientists have never actually filmed one, especially not one this big. But the image you’re about to see was shot on the Sun’s surface by The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, and it’s of a solar tornado made of fire, ripping across the star’s surface. Take a look after the jump…
That swirling mass of fire is likely nearly 2 million degrees Kelvin. The wind inside it moves at speeds of up to 300,000km per hour. Here on Earth even the most destructive twister rarely gets above 150km per hour.
It’s believed that solar tornadoes just like this one may be responsible for solar storms and other coronal mass ejections which send deadly radiation spinning towards Earth. Riding one of these is probably not the best way to get to Oz.