11,000 Super-Tornadoes Storm the Sun's Surface?
Twisters could explain mystery of star's superhot upper atmosphere, study says.
If Dorothy lived on the sun, she'd need truckloads of ruby slippers.
According to a new study, 11,000 magnetic supertornadoes may cover our star at any moment—each possibly as large as the United States.
A team of solar researchers discovered 14 of the supersize tornadoes using a telescope in space and one on the ground.
Made of swirling, searing-hot plasma, each twister stretched roughly 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) high and spun about 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) an hour. (Related: "Giant Solar Tornado Caught in NASA Video.")
The team saw the first signs of solar tornadoes in 2008 but couldn't confirm their existence until now.
"We observed some unusually hot plasma above the sun's surface, so we knew something was happening there,