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The Sun's Coronal Rain Puzzle Solved

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-04-10 08:36 AM
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The Sun's Coronal Rain Puzzle Solved
Analysis by Ian O'Neill
Tue May 4, 2010 04:39 AM ET

Using NASA's brand new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), solar physicists are already beginning to understand some of the sun's greatest mysteries. And last week, the SDO may have provided an answer to one of its most beautiful (yet perplexing) phenomena: coronal rain.

The SDO may have only given us its 'first-light' images less than two weeks ago, but scientists analyzing the SDO's high-definition movies of the sun are seeing features in the lower corona (the sun's atmosphere) that they have never seen before.

In this case, the SDO spotted an eruption of plasma in the lower corona, spitting huge quantities of hot plasma into space, like water being pumped through a firehose. But this 'water' has a temperature of over 60,000 Kelvin (not the kind of 'water' you'd want to get sprayed with, you'd be vaporized in an instant!). However, the plasma couldn't escape the gravitational pull of the sun and fell back to the solar 'surface' (known as the photosphere).

The erupting plasma was funneled through massive arcs of magnetic field lines known as coronal loops. After being launched, the plasma fell back to the sun, looking like droplets of rain. The scale of these 'droplets' are gargantuan, each could easily engulf the Earth.

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  - TY, doc.  dixiegrrrrl   May-04-10 11:09 AM   #1 
  - That image is amazing!  Ultraviolet Cat   May-04-10 05:16 PM   #2 
dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-04-10 11:09 AM
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1. TY, doc.
I forward this stuff to my science pals.
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Ultraviolet Cat Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-04-10 05:16 PM
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2. That image is amazing!
I can't wait to see more from the SDO. Thank you for posting this!
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