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This video of a 111,000-mile-tall plasma tornado on the sun just blew my mind

Published Mar 27th, 2023 4:11PM EDT
huge solar eruption from bright sun on dark background
Image: lukszczepanski/Adobe

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Earlier this month, astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy pointed his solar telescope at the Sun and captured a mesmerizing and terrifying sight. The result of those three hours of observation is a video showcasing a massive plasma tornado on the Sun. The video isn’t long, but it provides a powerful glimpse into the terrifying nature of our Sun and the plasma that it unleashes each and every day. 

This isn’t the first time that we’ve spotted such a tornado spouting out from the surface of the Sun, either. Earlier this year, astronomers captured footage of a solar vortex near the sun’s north pole – a vortex that appears during almost every solar cycle. This new plasma tornado appeared on the sun on March 15, according to LiveScience, and then vanished a few days later. 

According to McCarthy, who captured the video, the new vortex appeared to be roughly 14 Earths tall, stretching out from the surface of the Sun. However, the plasma tornado reigned down incandescent material while it was active. “I can’t imagine a more hellish place,” McCarthy posted in his original tweet sharing the video. 

Andrew McCarthy has made quite a name for himself over the past couple of years, capturing stunning images of the Sun, the Moon, and even other cosmic events as they have unfolded. This newly shared video of a plasma tornado on the Sun continues to showcase his clever use of his telescopes to capture amazing sights you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. 

And this isn’t the first time he has looked at the Sun in-depth. In 2022, McCarthy captured a fantastic video of a massive solar flare on the Sun. So, you could say he has a good bit of experience capturing these mesmerizing and terrifying events as they unfold on our solar system’s central star. You can see the video of the plasma tornado on the Sun in the tweet above.

Be sure to check out McCarthy’s Instagram for even more beautiful captures. 

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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