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article imageNASA publishes video of Earth-sized solar tornadoes on the sun

By Andrew Moran     Feb 20, 2012 in Science
Greenbelt - Nearly at the peak of its 11-year Solar Cycle 24, a NASA spacecraft captured a video that shows Earth-sized solar tornadoes dancing across the sun's surface. The tornadoes had gusts of up to 482,803 km/h (300,000 mph).
For years now, scientists have warned us about the 11-year cycle of our sun. During this event, the sun becomes erratic and can pose a dangerous threat to the Earth. Fortunately for the habitants of Earth, we have not experienced anything detrimental to our everyday life. However, there is still time.
There is one aspect of the Solar Cycle 24, though, that has given astronomy enthusiasts a great time are the endless images and videos of the mayhem that transpires on the sun. NASA’s latest information shows exactly that.
On the weekend, NASA published data that was taken by its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which shows Earth-sized solar tornadoes occurring at the surface of the sun. The eruptions of hot plasma created solar twists with gusts of up to 482,803 km/h (300,000 mph).
The circling plasma took place during the course of a 30-hour period between Feb. 7 and Feb. 8.
How did such a storm happen? The massive solar tornadoes were created due to competing magnetic forces that rapidly pull the charged magnetic particles on the sun back and forth, which creates images of what NASA astronomers saw.
“It’s about 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit -- relatively cool,” said Terry Kucera, deputy SOHO project scientists and solar physicist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in an interview with Fox News. “In total length, this could be dozens of Earths -- quite large. Each wavelength of light tells us something different.”
Officials say images like this would not have been seen if it wasn’t for the SDO, which was established on Feb. 11, 2010 and cost $850 million. Its five-year mission is to record high-definition videos of the sun to better understand the sun’s solar weather cycle. Coincidentally, it celebrated its two-year anniversary.
More about NASA, Sun, solar tornadoes, solar cycle 24, solar wind
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