Whirlpools on the sun, recorded by the SST

When a liquid, gas or plasma is heated from underneath it forms convection cells. Hot fluid rises to the surface in the centre of the cell, cools as it moves sideways across the surface, and then sinks along the sides of the cell. You can most easily see this in a pan of boiling macaroni.

The surface of the sun is covered in convection cells, each about 1,000 km across. In 2008, Spanish astronomers using the Swedish Solar Telescope found that when three cell edges meet, the plasma goes down in a hurricane-sized whirlpool, due to the Coriolis effect. The IAC released a really cool video of these whirlpools at: https://youtu.be/P1u5k6VPhZY

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Hi.
    They’re on the coast near Fuencaliente and if I rememebr rightly the water is 38 ºC.
    The bad news is that they aren’t open to the public yet.

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