In a spectacle of cosmic proportions, a tornado-like whirlwind of fire 5 times the size of Earth was captured on video spiraling on the surface of the Sun. For scientists, the whole phenomenon of solar ‘tornadoes’ is not unheard of but this is the first time one this big has been captured in motion on video.
The spectacle was filmed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Now, if the video was not breathtaking enough, consider some of the following vital statics:
The temperature in the ‘tornado’ could have been as high as 2 million degrees
The speed of the winds were about 300,000mph (the highest wind speed of an Earthly tornado is just over 300mph).
The tornado lasted about 3 hours (most Earth tornadoes only last for a few minutes)
For scientists, solar tornadoes are interesting because, according to some theories, they may be at the root of the phenomenon of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which spew large amounts of charged particles into space, which can then, in turn, cause Northern Lights on Earth. The theory: the high winds of these solar tornadoes can actually warp solar magnetic fields,m tangling them to the point that they snap, resulting in CMEs. However, this is only a theory as the root cause of CMEs remains open to speculation.
Want to watch the Sun? Well, at the most basic level, a pair of eclipse shades or a #14 or darker welder’s shield will work. For people demanding more, a safe solar filter for a telescope will be desired. Coming in many varieties, different filters allow the user to see the Sun in anything as simople as filtered daylight to as exotic as specific wavelengths of certain elements, such as Hydrogen or Calcium.
Now, since astronomy always a weather-allowing pursuit, be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Unfortunately, at least in the Cleveland area, things are looking pretty iffy as of this writing, wich means that the Sun will be playing hide and seek with the clouds. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you
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