NASA spacecraft spots line of tornadoes on the Sun

A huge X1.2-class solar flare erupted from the sun late Tuesday (May 14, 2013), the fourth major flare in two days from a busy sunspot on the surface of the sun. NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory captured this view of the event.

Tornado season is in full swing here on Earth, as we've seen over the past month in the United States, and in southern Ontario, but we're not the only ones experiencing this, as images captured by NASA show dark twisters dancing across the surface of the Sun.

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For 38 hours straight, on June 3rd and 4th, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory watched as these whirling vortexes of solar plasma stood in a line, apparently supporting a solar prominence that was streaming away from the surface. These 'solar tornadoes' appear darker than the rest of the Sun because these pictures were taken to show extremely high temperatures, and the plasma being drawn up into them is slightly cooler than the area around them.

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There's a big difference between solar tornadoes and those here on Earth. In one way, literally so, as twisters on the Sun can be bigger than our entire planet, but also solar tornadoes are magnetic, instead of being created by rotating winds. They also may explain why the Sun's atmosphere is hotter than its surface.

(Video courtesy: NASA/SDO/Space.com)

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