A video released by NASA on March 22, 2023, shows a stunning view of a “plasma tornado” swirling above the north pole of the sun. The video was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite, which has been observing the sun since 2010.
The “plasma tornado,” which is actually a phenomenon known as a “coronal loop,” is a massive stream of charged particles that are caught in the sun’s magnetic field. The loop can be seen in the video as a twisting, spiraling column of bright plasma.
According to NASA, coronal loops can reach temperatures of over a million degrees Celsius and are thought to be the result of the sun’s complex magnetic field. The loops are also thought to be responsible for the sun’s corona, the halo of hot gas that surrounds the sun.
The SDO is just one of many satellites and telescopes that NASA uses to study the sun. The agency is particularly interested in understanding how the sun’s magnetic field affects space weather and how it impacts Earth’s climate and technology.
The video of the “plasma tornado” is a stunning reminder of the sheer power and complexity of the sun, and the ongoing efforts of scientists to understand it.