(HorizonPost.com) – A massive solar tornado was spotted on the surface of the sun that was around 14 times as big as planet Earth, according to Newsweek. The plasma was reportedly observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) last week with one astrophysicist describing the event as “hellish.”
The SDO reportedly takes a snapshot of the sun every 12 seconds. The camera is reportedly adept at capturing coronal loops where plasma is seen moving along magnetic field lines.
Andrew McCarthy posted a video of the tornado to Twitter, saying that the column of plasma was precipitating “moon-sized globs of incandescent material on the sun.”
Tornados on Earth are formed from rapidly spinning air, according to National Geographic. Contrarily, solar tornadoes are windstorms of plasma wrought in the atmosphere of the sun. Speed greatly differs between the two types of tornadoes. On Earth, they can reach a top speed of about 300 miles per hour. But solar tornadoes are over 1000 times that magnitude at 310,000 miles per hour.
They are also 45 times hotter than the sun, which is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite their name, however, solar tornadoes do not actually spin. The tornado is composed of “vertical flows of magnetized gas.”
The news comes as a geomagnetic storm is projected to hit Earth on March 24. A large hole has reportedly opened up in the sun’s atmosphere causing solar winds to travel our way. While solar storms can cause beautiful auroras, they can also harm GPS signals, power grids, satellite electronics, and radio communication.
The sun is currently experiencing the peak of its eruptions that occur every 11 years. The peak of the cycle is expected to be between one and three years away. While the storms can be disruptive to everyday life, they are not powerful enough to completely wipe out Earth’s magnetic field.
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