The sun can be a very scary place to be (if it was possible to begin with), with temperatures in the upwards of 5,778 K (9,941 F) and tornadoes that are even bigger than those on Earth. However, scientists have found that those solar tornadoes are not similar to tornadoes on Earth.
Using the Doppler effect to add a 3-D dimension to their data, they were able to measure the speed of the moving plasma of the tornado along with the direction, temperature, and density. Now, after many years of studies, they have come to the conclusion that solar tornadoes don’t rotate.
In a presentation in Liverpool, England, Nicolas Labrosse, the lead scientist, explained that despite the similarities between tornadoes and solar prominences in pictures, the magnetic field is not vertical and the plasma mostly moves horizontally along magnetic fields.
Another scientist involved in the research, Brigitte Schmieder, noted that we shouldn’t be too worried about these tornadoes. However, when we start to see too many of them, that’s when we should start to worry, since space weather can potentially damage power grids, satellites, and communication networks.
Solar tornadoes can last up to a day and ones that are stable may last for several months. Their lengths can also loop hundreds of thousands of miles into space.
We think we know everything about our sun but this research about solar tornadoes shows that we as humans still don’t know all the answers.