Fountains of Plasma Rain Might Explain One of the Biggest Mysteries of the Sun

Live Science | 4/11/2019 | Staff
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Today's weather forecast on the sun calls for a high of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius), constant supersonic wind, mysterious eruptions of giant lava-lamp-blobs and, oh yes, light rain. So, you know, pack an umbrella.

As bizarre as it sounds, rain on the sun is a relatively common occurrence. Unlike rain on Earth, where liquid water evaporates, condenses into clouds, then falls back down in droplets after growing sufficiently heavy, solar rain results from the rapid heating and cooling of plasma (the hot, charged gas that comprises the sun).

Physicists - Sun - Corona - Times - Surface

Solar physicists have been studying how the Sun's corona, which is 200 to 500 times hotter than the surface, with NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission. They found evidence of explosive events set off by solar magnetic reconnection that could be heating its atmosphere.

In a new study published April 5 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the NASA team describes the structures as raining null-point topologies (RNPTs) — superbright, comparatively small magnetic loops that rise up to 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) above the sun's surface. While studying five months of solar observations taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the team detected three clearly visible RNPT structures, each of which blazed with plasma rain for days at a time.

Ease - Structures - Frequency - Rain - Observations

"The ease with which these structures were identified and the frequency of rain during all observations provides compelling support for the conclusion that this is a ubiquitous phenomenon," the authors wrote in the study.

The detection of these drizzly structures came as a surprise...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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