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Giant tornadoes on the Sun, like it wasn’t hot enough

We here in Oklahoma are no strangers to some very extreme weather, but nothing compared with a recent discovery! Solar tornadoes, the size of the Continental US may be responsible for a condition that makes the sun’s atmosphere over 300 times hotter than its surface.

Here is an explanation from an article published on Huffington Post.

While comparing images from the Swedish Solar Telescope with others taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, an international team of scientists noticed bright points on the sun’s surface and atmosphere that corresponded with swirls in the so-called chromospheres, a region that is sandwiched between the two layers. The finding indicates that the solar tornadoes stretched through all three layers of the sun.

The scientists went on to identify 14 solar super-tornadoes occurring within an hour of each other. By using a three dimensional simulation, the team then found that the swirls could play a role in elevating the sun’s outer layer.

A sun ‘super-tornado’ is born

Unlike tornadoes on Earth, which are powered by differences in temperature and humidity, the twisters on the sun are a combination of hot flowing gas and tangled magnetic field lines, ultimately driven by nuclear reactions in the solar core.

At the surface, or photosphere, cooled plasma sinks toward the interior like water running down the bathtub drain, creating vortexes that magnetic field lines are forced to follow. The lines stretch upward into the chromosphere, where they continue to spiral.

But while the hot gas at the surface drives the movement of the magnetic field, in the chromosphere it is the field lines that force the hot gas to spiral, creating the swirls that appear similar to tornadoes on Earth.

“The resulting funnel is narrow at the bottom and widens with height in the atmosphere,” lead scientist Sven Wedemeyer-Böhm, of the University of Oslo in Norway, told by email.

Spinning at thousands of miles per hour, the tornadoes vary in size, with diameters ranging from 930 to 3,500 miles (1,500 to 5,550 kilometers). Some of these giant solar twisters extend all the up in to the lower portion of the sun’s upper atmosphere (called the corona, the researchers said.

Wow, can you imagine the damage those suckers could cause? You think Garry and Mike get excited now!

So, now you know, that tornadoes can not only tear your house apart, but may also be responsible for your high Summer cooling bills! Darn tornadoes! If your house is hit by a terrestrial tornado, or you want a consult on what can be done to insulate you from tornadoes on the sun, call Greg (Google Voice number)

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