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Tornadoes on the Sun! - Windows to the Universe

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An image of one of a dozen such tornadoes found by SOHO. The lighter right-hand side is material that is moving towards SOHO. The darker left-hand side is material that is moving away from SOHO (the doppler effect).
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Tornadoes on the Sun!
News story originally written on May 1, 1998

There just seem to be so many exciting things happening in space these days! One new discovery is that there are storms on the Sun very similar to our own tornadoes! This discovery was made by ESA/NASA spacecraft SOHO.

SOHO has spotted a dozen of these storms. These storms are as wide as the planet Earth and have gusts ten times faster than anything measured on Earth! Doesn't seem as if we're in Kansas anymore!

Also, happening on the Sun...There seems to have been a coronal mass ejection two days ago. Activity like this on the Sun can often disrupt radio communications. It can cause pilots to lose contact with their control towers and even disorient migratory anmals that depend on the Earth's magnetic field for guidance.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF