Rain on the Sun

Rain on the Sun

Rain on the Sun

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
April 19 2012 12:16 PM

Rain on the Sun

After I posted the video of the solar eruption earlier this week, I got a lot of questions about why material fell back from the explosion onto the Sun. The quick answer: gravity! A lot of the material from a prominence like that falls back onto the Sun because of the Sun's strong gravity. Since the material is an ionized plasma - a gas stripped of one or more electrons -- it follows the magnetic field lines of the Sun, so you can see graceful arcs of this stuff falling back down after the blast (see Related Posts below for links to more detailed descriptions of this phenomenon).

Oh, why describe it when I can show you? This video is from the NASA/JAXA Hinode spacecraft which observes X-rays from the Sun. It caught the event in loving detail:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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[embed width="610"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-sZcJyyHAMI[/embed]


See? Gravity does the work, but magnetism does the steering.

Tip o' the phased plasma rifle in the 40 Watt range to Camilla Corona SDO.

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