To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Solar tornado 14-times larger than Earth has erupted on surface of the sun

Solar tornado 14-times larger than Earth has erupted on surface of the sun

The huge eruption is thought to be much hotter than the sun

A huge solar tornado approximately 14 times bigger than Earth has been spotted erupting from the surface of the sun and dispersing off into space.

Just another day in this crazy universe!

The wild eruption took place on 17 March, while the rest of us down here on Earth were thinking about our weekend plans, scrolling TikTok and celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

We might have missed the events in space altogether if it weren't for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which caught on camera the swirling column of solar plasma rising up from the huge star that keeps us all alive.

Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy alerted the masses to the event with a post on Twitter, where he casually explained: "There's a "tornado" on the surface of the sun right now. Will be spending the rest of the day watching it to see what happens."

The 'tornado' is thought to be much hotter than the sun.

A tornado on the sun does admittedly sound like the start of a B-list disaster movie, but McCarthy assured that the situation wasn't anything to worry about.

"In case it needs to be said: No, this isn't going to wipe out life on Earth," he said. "This is a solar prominence, and is a regular occurrence on the sun. If I saw something that was going to kill us all I'd let you know (after I was done soiling myself)."

After first spotting the tornado, McCarthy shared an update the following day to say he'd spent three hours with his solar telescope pointed at the sight.

"This 14-Earths-tall swirling column of plasma was raining moon-sized gobs of incandescent material on the sun. I can't imagine a more hellish place," he wrote.

The tornado is 14 times bigger than Earth.

NASA describes solar prominences as a 'large, bright feature extending outward from the Sun's surface', and though it's not yet known why they're created, they are thought to take about a day to form.

The material seen swirling in the video of the tornado is plasma; a hot gas which is comprised of hydrogen and helium.

The plasma travels along a twisted structure of magnetic fields, but it can burst outwards when the structure becomes unstable.

It looks like the tornado is travelling vertically away from the sun, though Nicolas Labrosse, an astronomer at the University of Glasgow, has previously explained that 'the plasma mostly moves horizontally along magnetic field lines', and it's just the way the line of sight is compressed in the sky that makes it appear like a raging, tall tornado.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's any less scary though, because as if the sun wasn't already hot enough at roughly 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5500°C), the prominences are thought to be a whole new level of hot, at around 450,000 degrees Fahrenheit (250,000°C).

Featured Image Credit: Apollo Lasky / NASA/SDO

Topics: Space, Science, NASA