A NASA satellite has caught a stunning, yet eerie, video of a huge plasma twister rising up from the surface of the sun. The video, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a plasma eruption that swirls up like a tornado to a dizzying height of up to 93,206 miles (150,000 kilometers) above the solar surface.
"Its height is roughly between 10 to 12 Earths," solar astrophysicist C. Alex Young of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told SPACE.com.
A stalk-like prominence rose up above the Sun, then split into roughly four strands, that twisted themselves into a knot and dispersed over a two-hour period (July 12, 2011). As the close-up shows (in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light), the effect is one of airy gracefulness. This clip also underscores the value from SDO of being able to view motion with an image taken every 10 seconds. CREDIT: NASA/SDO/GSFC
See A Solar Twister - 150,000 Kilometers High