When it rains on the sun

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The sun is a very dynamic place, a constantly churning ball of immense energy that can put on dazzling displays of flares, sunspots and the like. But did you know that it also rains there?

Well, not rain as we think of it of course, but a phenomenon called coronal rain.

Some newly released video footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows this beautiful occurrence in stunning detail. This display shows a combination of three different solar phenomena – a solar flare, followed by a coronal mass ejection (CME) and finally the coronal rain itself.

The “rain” is extremely hot plasma which follows the magnetic fields in the CME and then slowly falls back to the surface of the sun. The effect is beautiful, almost surreal. Note also how the size of the Earth is shown by comparison in the video. What would it be like to be able to actually observe this natural wonder from nearby?

The footage in the video, first taken on July 19, 2012, is condensed; each second corresponds to about six minutes of real time.

This article was first published on Examiner.com.

Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and Examiner.com. He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.

2 Comments

  1. When I hear about lines of force I don’t tend to think of them as discrete lines, rather it seems logical to picture a continuum…yet these aw inspiring pictures do in fact show well formed lines side by side. I wonder how that fits with the math models? Good musical flavouring too.

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