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Monster Solar Tornadoes Discovered

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-just-in-kansas-anymore dept.

Space 63

astroengine writes "For the first time, huge solar tornadoes have been filmed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) swirling deep inside the solar corona — the sun's superheated atmosphere. But if you're imagining the pedestrian tornadoes that we experience on Earth, think again. These solar monsters, measuring the width of several Earths and swirling at speeds of up to 300,000 kilometers (190,000 miles) per hour, aren't only fascinating structures; they may also trigger violent magnetic eruptions that can have drastic effects on our planet. 'These tornadoes may help to produce favorable conditions for CMEs to occur,' said Xing Li, solar physicist at Aberystwyth University and co-discoverer of the phenomenon."

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63 comments

Sorry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39511637)

I farted. Don't smell the tornado if you want to live.

Already fear Mongering (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39511695)

They were just discovered and the guy is fear mongering the public about the drastic effects.

Re:Already fear Mongering (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511747)

He's afraid they'll make a sequel to Twister. This time with flying space cows.

Re:Already fear Mongering (0)

rickett81 (987309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512165)

not sure why that deserved a -1. I'd of said insightful.

Re:Already fear Mongering (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512769)

"have", not "of", shitbrain.

Re:Already fear Mongering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39513753)

I'd've

Re:Already fear Mongering (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39514905)

"Toto, I don't think we're in the Sol system anymore."

Conversion error (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511767)

"speeds of up to 300,000 kilometers (190,000 miles) per hour,"

I thought that everybody would know that 300,000 km is about 186,000 miles (remember c )

Re:Conversion error (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511811)

Probably it depends on which "mile" precisely the RTFA uses. I know you have many different ones.

Re:Conversion error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514621)

the RTFA

This is a rich surplus of additional duplications, my friend!

Significant digits (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511833)

No, you are making the mistake. The conversion in units needs to take into account the precision of the original number to determine where it should be rounded. I doubt the determination of the top speed is within 4,000mph, so the 190K number is better than the 186K number. 200K might even be more fair, but it depends on the original data. Unfortunately, the units conversions are typically done by people who don't understand the concept of significant digits, let alone have any information about how precise the original number really is.

You all missed a point . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512239)

c=299,997km/s=186,232mi/s

The top wind speeds reported were around 300,000km/h=186,000mi/h. that's a factor of 3600:1.

Still - it'd be interesting to know if relativistic effects are present.

or I missed a point . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512295)

Oops - this was just a reference to equivalencies, not the actual speeds. Mea culpa.

And yes - with conversions comes the question of precision. If they'd said 3x10^6km/hr, it would've meant anywhere from 250,001km/hr - 350,000km/hr. A conversion to read as 2x10^6mi/hr would be fairly sloppy IMHO, but within bounds.

Re:or I missed a point . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39513257)

This is not Nam, this is applied maths. There are rules!

3x10^6 means there's a error of +/- 0.17np.
2x10^6 means an error of 0.26np, wholly encompassing the original range.
1.9x10^6 (which I presume you'd prefer, since you express dissatisfaction with the correct answer) means an error of 0.026np, a much higher precision than the original.

One of those is a RIGHT way to report the conversion, and one of those is just plain WRONG. Nobody cares about your opinion, however humble it may be, or vague terms such as "fairly sloppy", because we have actual mathematics that lets us guarantee that our results do not pretend to significantly higher accuracy than we know.

(Of course, there are much better ways to express and track uncertainty than plain sigfigs; specifically, it's common in some fields such as chemistry to state the uncertainty in the last digit (or two) with brackets, as "3.0[7] x 10^6" meaning 3x10^6 +/- 0.7x10^6, or "3.00[15] x 10^6" to signify +/- 0.15x10^6, which would be properly converted to miles as 1.9[4] x 10^6 and 1.86[9] x 10^6, respectively. Clearly this is a much better and only marginally more complex system. Sigfigs' popularity stems largely from the days of sliderules, where one would actually multiply two 3-digit numbers and get only 3 digits of result.)

Re:You all missed a point . . . (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512469)

Still - it'd be interesting to know if relativistic effects are present.

They always are, the only question is how measurable they are. A rule of thumb I learned in a physics class is the relativistic effects become important at 10% of the speed of light. Of course, 'important' is a relative term.......

To put it into perspective, a satellite travels at 18,000 km/h (or whatever, you can do the math yourself [freemars.org] ).

Re:You all missed a point . . . (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515533)

In human terms you'd have to be going past 50% for them to matter. I forget if it was 50% or 90% to be honest.

Re:Significant digits (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512557)

When you're talking about approximate speeds near the speed of light it's usually safer to report lower figures. Rounding down is better than rounding up. Otherwise you might cause unnecessary excitement...

Re:Significant digits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39513013)

When you're talking about approximate speeds near the speed of light

We're not. Notice km/h, vs km/s.

Re:Significant digits (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513173)

How many Kessel Runs is that? Help me out, I was told there'd be no math.

Re:Conversion error (2)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512655)

Well, that's reasonably close. Remember also that they're talking about per hour rather than per second. (You probably did, but I didn't for a second or so...and thought there must be some other mistake.)

Rotational Speed (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511787)

Angular velocity is a better way to measure the speed of a spinning object, because it factors out the object's diameter. Sure, 300Mm per hour sounds fast, but for an object that size, it's probably not a very impressive angular velocity.

Re:Rotational Speed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512725)

Angular velocity might not convey much either by itself, and even if the angular velocity is unimpressive, the linear velocities involved might still be significant. 40,000 RPM is slow and unimpressive for something like a dentist drill, but say for a pulsar that is 20 km across, that has the surface going 15% of c.

In this case if you assume it is 5 earth diameters across, and the edge is at 300,000 km/hr, you get an angular velocity of about 0.025 RPM, which might not mean much to most people. To put it in perspective, it is about 40 times the angular velocity of the Earth, yet 5 times bigger.

Re:Rotational Speed (1)

kdogg73 (771674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512891)

To put another spin on this, the earth's velocity around the sun is 107,300 km/h (67,062 mph). It's easy to let the environment force restrictions on the fathomable.

Re:Rotational Speed (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513085)

We don't measure the speed of terrestrial tornadoes or other cyclonic weather phenomenon with angular velocity. The angular velocity of a hurricane isn't that impressive either but the linear velocity of the wind surely is.

This, too, is extremely impressive speed even if the angular velocity is low. So what if it's rotating slowly, those winds still had to be accelerated to 300Mm/hr! That's impressive!

From behind the fire shield.... (1, Funny)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511807)

Are these tornadoes made worse by AGM?

Re:From behind the fire shield.... (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512241)

Why? why would you write that? Clearly flamebait.

And the hypothesis posited by your link has been ruled out. It doesn't match the data. Do you really think no one looked at that or studied it?

Alternate Title (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511849)

I wish it had said "Solar Monster Tornadoes" - there are so many more visual images possible that way. It's even better when combined with the Pedestrian Tornadoes mentioned in the summary. Wheee!
I also wish it said "Tornados", but that's just because I live in the central part of the country.

Re:Alternate Title (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512185)

I first read the title as "Monster Solar Tomatoes". Try that visual image ;)

I suppose this rules out .... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511889)

... establishing mobile home parks on the sun.

Re:I suppose this rules out .... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512191)

why? Tornadoes don't stop anyone from doing that here.

Re:I suppose this rules out .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512249)

... establishing mobile home parks on the sun.

I see no reason not to, as long as you have a root cellar in the park.

I wonder exactly how that would go? "OH MY GOD! WHY ARE WE RETREATING *INTO* THE SUN!?!?! THIS WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. WHY DID WE THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!?!?!"

Re:I suppose this guarantees .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512437)

... establishing mobile home parks on the sun.

FTFY

Re:I suppose this rules out .... (3, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512809)

I think you have cause and effect mixed up.

I'd argue that Solar Tornadoes are convincing evidence that trailer parks already exist on the Sun.

By the way.. CURSE YOU!!!! You beat me to this joke!!!

Re:I suppose this rules out .... (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513471)

If it makes you feel any better, you beat me to the joke you made.

Or, since we're messing with causality, I beat you! Please mark parent "-1 Redundant."

Re:I suppose this rules out .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515509)

... establishing mobile home parks on the sun.

You've got cause and effect backwards. You see, the less well to do aliens moved some mobile homes to the sun since it was a low cost neighborhood. Now the Sun God is using tornadoes as a way to try and clean up the mess. Kind of like Gaia is doing with Oklahoma and Alabama.

Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's storms (3, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511891)

Storms and weather on the sun should be expected. We are quite familiar with storms on Jupiter, so just scale that up, and you should expect the same on the sun. We just can't observe them as easily.

I would expect that they'll find that there are storms that persist for hundreds of years, if not longer.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512363)

Agreed. The Sun is just an incredibly large hot gas giant, not necessarily too different from Jupiter in many regards.

There are differences - magnetism plays a larger role since the Sun is made of plasma and not gas. There aren't too many objects in the solar system which can exert a tremendous gravitic influence on the Sun. Unlike Jupiter (or most planets, for that matter), the Sun's core is cooler than it's surface. The weather may have some different properties, but it's still weather.

Oh, and there's no damned shade anywhere.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (4, Informative)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513867)

"...the Sun's core is cooler than it's surface."

Wow, no. From Wikipedia, the Sun's center is 15,700,000 K, the surface is 5,778 K, and the corona is 5,000,000 K.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515061)

Boy, just not my day. I've gotta stop posting from memory and start double-checking.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39516755)

Been a while since you last went to the sun, eh?

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525363)

No, he and Zaphod had a couple of gargleblasters before they stole Hotblack's ship. Stuff will fuck you up real good!

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

I Read Good (2348294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39517827)

I'm not contradicting the statement, but how do they know that? What sort of instrumentation did they use to take temperature measurements for the center? AFAIK it's still a reasonable debate as to the properties of our own earth's core, and we live ON IT. Does our distance from the sun (vs. our perspective of the earth) or another difference between the sun and our planet make one's core temperature measurable and the other's not? I'm not trolling. This is not my area of expertise, but I do think it's interesting.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520959)

What sort of instrumentation did they use to take temperature measurements for the center?

They can't measure it directly, obviously. The numbers quoted are those given by our best scientific models of the Sun's structure and its nuclear processes. Those models predict fairly accurately the properties and behavior that we *can* observe and measure from Earth and from our space probes, so they give us some reasonable degree of confidence that we're in the right ballpark when estimating a temperature for the core.

Of course those estimates will change as our understanding improves, but that's the same for all science.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514797)

"Storms and weather on the sun should be expected."

Expecting is easy, scientists do that regularly.
What sets them apart from the rest of us is that they find it.

Re:Should be obvious--scale up from Jupiter's stor (1)

crdotson (224356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39538945)

Stop being rational. Clearly the tornadoes on the sun are a climate change problem, and, let's face it, are George Bush's fault. :)

Quick! (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512033)

Hook a ZPM up to the Promethius' shield generater and put it between us and the prominence!

MONSTER SOLAR TORNADOES (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512041)

dot tumblr dot com

The Human Factor (2)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512153)

I am sure there must be some way to tie this into human activity and profit from it?

Re:The Human Factor (1)

asylumx (881307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512639)

Obviously this was caused by Superman when he tossed nuclear weapons into the Sun.

F5 is so 2010 (3, Funny)

Dr. Gamera (1548195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512259)

Might need a new Fujita scale... forget F5, say hello to F4000!

Re:F5 is so 2010 (1)

hierophanta (1345511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513509)

I think F6 is fitting termed 'Inconceivable tornado' (from http://www.tornadoproject.com/fscale/fscale.htm [tornadoproject.com] ) although that also says winds up to 380mph so you do have a point.

Re:F5 is so 2010 (1)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513589)

I wish I had mod points left--anything that makes me lawl deserves a funny vote.

Re:F5 is so 2010 (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513881)

Yeah man, whatever. We don't care about you actually, so get a life. XOXO

Re:F5 is so 2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39514873)

I hope you meant to say Over F9000...

Pah, a mere dust devil! (1)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513649)

But if you're imagining the pedestrian tornadoes that we experience on Earth, think again.

My thoughts seeing this title: 'Monster Tornadoes are on the sun, OMFG we're gonna die.' I came down from the knee-jerk ridiculousness of course, but at no point did I think 'Hah, I survived the freak-o F3 that plowed through my area in June, this is nothing!'

Your terrestrial thinking is tiring (2)

emeitner (513842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513823)

Shouldn't these phenomena be called vortexes? A tornado it a weather phenomenon that occurs under certain conditions on planet Earth.

Cease and Desist (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513835)

I am lawyer representing Monster Cable. Stop using the word "Monster" in this unauthorized way or you will face a lawsuit.

We had a CME created by a solar Tornado.... (1)

bodland (522967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39514705)

Despite that happy certificate he couldn't do squat to a Windows box without looking it up....

Syfy Original Movie (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39516403)

So...how long until they make this into a $30,000 budget movie for the syfy, starring Lou Diamond Philips?

Need Glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39516591)

Had to do a double-take then. I genuinely thought that said "Monster Solar Tomatoes Discovered" for a second.

Re:Need Glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39517627)

I thought it said "Monster Killer Tomatoes Discovered."

Better that than "Solar Tornado Monsters" though.

Accelerator? (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519815)

Earth storms are particle accelerators.

What about these?

Tornadoes? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522719)

Last I checked there was no atmosphere on the sun.

I think Vortex might be a better term.

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