NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft has captured video of a massive
solar tornado five times wider than the Earth twisting its way across the surface of the sun. As said researchers NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) looked on as the huge, swirling storm raged on September 25, 2011, spinning solar gas at speeds up to 186,000 mph (300,000 kph). Here on Earth, tornado wind speeds top out at around 300 mph (483 kph). According to Xing Li of Aberystwyth University in Wales, who analyzed the SDO footage this is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager. SDO’s instruments saw gases as hot as 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit (2 million degrees Celsius) rise from a dense solar structure called a prominence, then travel about 124,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) along a spiral path into the upper solar atmosphere. Unlike Earth’s tornados, which are driven by wind, solar twisters are shaped by our star’s powerful magnetic field. They often occur in concert with violent explosions of solar plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Some researchers think the tornados may help trigger coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can streak through space at several million miles per hour. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that hit Earth can wreak havoc on our planet, causing temporary disruptions in GPS signals, radio communications and power grids. They also typically supercharge the dazzling light shows near Earth’s poles known as the northern and southern lights. Now sun is in an active period of its 11-year weather cycle and will peak in 2013.