What’s the Mechanism Behind the Sun’s Plasma Rain?

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An exciting fact discovered by astronauts is that even on the Sun is raining. On Earth, we have the water cycle that evaporates from the surfaces of lakes, oceans, and form into the clouds. On the Sun, instead of water is heated plasma to millions of degrees, and it’s moving in cycles.

What is plasma?

Plasma is a gas, but this gas is electrically-charged, and it follows a magnetic loop which forms arc out of the surface of the Sun. It has an interesting trajectory: first is heated until it becomes energetic after that is escaping the Sun’s surface and it’s making a magnetic loop. After the plasma is getting cold, it’s falling back to the surface. Finally, it falls on the Sun, and it becomes a “coronal rain.”

However, scientists have found the magnetic loops very strange. The outer atmosphere of the Sun is much hotter than its surface (300 times hotter), and the coronal rain happens when the plasma is heated at the bottom of the loops.

What Are the Researches on the Sun’s Plasma Rain Phenomenon Say?

Emily Mason, a graduate student, is looking in the most significant loops for coronal rain. Those most prominent loops are called helmet streamers and are millions of miles tall. The results were interesting because she didn’t find coronal rain in the bigger loops but in, the smaller magnetic structures. Those magnetic structures are 30,000 miles high and represent just 2% of the more significant loops height. Also, Mason has found that coronal rain it doesn’t happen only in the closed loops, but also in the open magnetic field lines.

The researchers concluded that the plasma is starting as a closed loop and then it’s switching to an open line. The plasma from the open front is falling back on the surface of the Sun as coronal rain, and the other one shoots off into space as stellar winds. And with the help of the Parker Solar Probe, they could solve this mystery.