Saturday, April 29, 2017


A tornado of magnetized plasma is dancing along the sun's northeastern limb today. To see the twister in action, play this movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and keep an eye on the circled plume:

Solar tornadoes are not uncommon, although they are often overlooked. This one is visible because it is jutting above the edge of the sun in profile, easy to see against the black space behind it. If a solar tornado over-rotates, magnetic fields inside the seething vortex can criss, cross, and explode, producing a type of solar flare that requires no sunspot.