Raindrops Falling On The Sun

  • Released Thursday, March 28th, 2013
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:52PM
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On July 19, 2012, million-degree plasma in the sun's atmosphere began to cool and fall to the surface, resulting in a dazzling magnetic display known as coronal rain. Because the plasma is charged, it's strongly influenced by the sun's magnetic field. As it rained down, it condensed along twisted magnetic field lines close to the surface and formed giant streaming arcs, some as tall as five Earths stacked high. An ultra high-definition telescope aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured images of the display, which lasted hours and was initiated by two eruptive events on the sun: a solar flare and coronal mass ejection. Scientists used a 304-angstrom-wavelength filter to see the plasma downpour. Watch the video to see it for yourself.

The raining plasma is best seen using SDO's 304 Å wavelength filter, which resolves material at temperatures of 50,000 Kelvin.

The raining plasma is best seen using SDO's 304 Å wavelength filter, which resolves material at temperatures of 50,000 Kelvin.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA/GSFC/SDO