Polar Whirlwind Observed Circulating on Sun’s North Pole

Polar Whirlwind Observed Circulating on Sun's North Pole

Filament of solar plasma, Image/NASA/SDO

The sun recently lost a huge filament of solar plasma from its surface. The broken filament is circling its north pole like a vortex of powerful winds. Although a normal occurring event, scientists have yet to see it form such a polar whirlwind until now.

Space.com recently elaborated on the solar prominence occurrence:

“‘Material from a northern prominence just broke away from the main filament and is now circulating in a massive polar vortex around the north pole of our star,’ space weather forecaster Tamitha Skov said on Twitter while sharing a video sequence taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory showing the odd whirlwind. ‘Implications for understanding the sun’s atmospheric dynamics above 55° here cannot be overstated!'”

The phenomenon occurs every solar cycle, forming at the 55 degree latitude and climbs up to the solar pole:

“The prominence is a “hedgerow in the solar plasma”, appears exactly at the 55 degree latitude around the sun’s polar crowns every 11 years. Scientists know that it has something to do with the reversal of the sun’s magnetic field that happens once every solar cycle, but they have no clue what drives it.”

The European Space Agency Solar Orbiter mission may help solve the this mysterious phenomenon. Although some scientists believe a new mission would be necessary since the sun can only be observed from the ecliptic plane [the plane in which planets orbit].”

See also  NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory Captures Sun Smiling