A huge filament of solar plasma has broken off the sun’s surface and is circling its north pole like a vortex of powerful winds, but scientists have no clue what caused it.
“Talk about polar vortex! Material from a northern prominence just broke away from the main filament & 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!”
Other solar physicists shared Skov’s excitement about the unusual phenomenon. But what exactly is it and why is it important?
Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist and deputy director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, told Space.com that while he has never seen a vortex like this, something odd is happening at the sun’s 55 degree latitudes with clockwork regularity once every solar cycle, the 11-year period characterized by an ebb and flow in the generation of sunspots and eruptions.
READ MORE: https://www.space.com/vortex-sun-poles