Solar Tornadoes Dance Across Sun Surface

The tornado-like eruptions of super-hot plasma were spotted by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is constantly recording high-definition videos of the sun.

The sun tornado video shows swirling fountains of plasma creeping across the surface of the sun during a 30-hour period between February 7 and 8. But unlike tornadoes on Earth, which are wind-driven phenomena, the sun’s plasma tornadoes are shaped by the powerful magnetic field of our star. In the video, cooler plasma material appears as darker spots on a bright background. The SDO spacecraft recorded the video in the extreme ultraviolet range of the light spectrum, giving the movie an eerie yellow hue. The sun is currently in an active period of its 11-year weather cycle. The current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24 and will peak in 2013.