NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) probe has captured a huge plasma tornado on the sun. The phenomenon grew to 120,000 kilometres for three days before it collapsed. To put this in perspective, our Earth is 12,756 kilometres in diameter.
The spectacular event was also filmed from Earth. Renowned astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy shared a corresponding video on Twitter. Later, he also posted photos online.
During the eruption, charged particles were also ejected into the atmosphere. However, since the tornado formed at the north pole of the sun, in this case, there was no danger of them hitting Earth and causing a solar storm. The latter can cause auroras – but is also a threat to modern technologies such as satellites, radio, the Internet or the power supply on Earth.
Path to the solar maximum
The sun is currently very active. The reason for this is the solar cycle, which repeats itself every 11 years. We are in a phase of increasing activity that will end in the Solar Maximum in 2025. After that, the action will decrease for 3 to 4 years until the Solar Minimum is reached. Then the cycle will start all over again.
The strength of solar activity is measured by the sunspots that appear during this phase. Solar flares emanate mainly from these sunspots or groups of sunspots.
Their magnetic fields can accumulate a great deal of energy over time. When the magnetic fields twist due to the movements on the solar surface, a “short circuit” can occur. The pent-up point then discharges explosively.
- source: futurezone.at/picture: Huge ‘tornado’ on sun churns for days in epic time-lapse from space – YouTube
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