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Gigantic Solar Tornado Is 5 Times the Size of Earth--September 2011

Discovered using NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory satellite, this colossal twisting mass is made up of superheated gas at a temperature of between 90,000 and 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. Over the course of three hours, this behemoth reached up from the sun's surface to a height of 125,000 miles, or roughly half the distance between the Earth and the moon. The hot gases were whipped up to nearly 186,000 miles per hour. In comparison, the wind speed of terrestrial tornadoes generally reaches a paltry 100 miles per hour. Scientists have previously seen smaller solar tornadoes with other sun-observing satellites but this one — spotted in September 2011 — is thought to be the first one ever filmed (left). Since then, researchers have seen at least one more solar tornado, an Earth-sized twister seen in the video below. These tornadoes often precede events known as coronal mass ejections — huge eruptions of charged particles that blast out of the sun's surface with tremendous energy. Such flare-ups are thought to be related to interactions among the sun's magnetic field lines, whose corkscrewing movements also shape the solar tornado. The top images and movie were presented at the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 in Manchester, England on Mar. 29. comment-rate-subscribe also watch:

Channels: Solar astronomy 

Added: 2792 days ago by deek

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