NASA Captures a Rare and Spectacular Event, Rain on the Sun

One solar eruption generated solar flares, mass ejections and coronal rain

By Lucian Parfeni on February 21st, 2013 19:21 GMT

You probably think rain is an exclusively earthly phenomenon, certainly, it's not something that happens on the sun. But you'd be wrong, at least if you're willing to bend the definition of "rain" a little.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured some spectacular images of activity on the sun last year and has now released a video of the event.

"On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced a moderately powerful solar flare and a dazzling magnetic display known as coronal rain. Hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region," NASA explained.

"Magnetic fields, are invisible, but the charged plasma is forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms, and outlining the fields as it slowly falls back to the solar surface," it added.

There is a great diversity in solar activity events. Some eruptions generate a flare, some manage to push material into space and some generate complex movement dictated by the strong magnetic fields in the solar corona.

The event in the video featured all three, a solar flare, a coronal mass ejection and finally the "coronal rain." Each second of the video represents six minutes of real time; the entire event lasted for nine and a half hours.
NASA Captures a Rare and Spectacular Event, Rain on the Sun – Video
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