Why is the sun’s outer atmosphere hotter than its surface? This phenomenon may be explained by the “plasma rain” found pouring down on the surface. Fancy dancing in the (plasma) rain?
Compared to rain on Earth, plasma rain on the sun is millions of degrees Fahrenheit hotter. Also, plasma, which is an electrically charged gas, doesn't pool like water on Earth. Instead, the plasma traces the magnetic field lines, or loops, that emerge from the sun's surface, according to the statement.
In addition, the researchers found that plasma where the magnetic loops attach to the sun's surface is superheated, reaching over 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius). This superhot plasma expands up the loop and gathers at the structure's peak. As the plasma cools, it condenses, and gravity pulls it back down the loop, creating coronal rain, according to the statement.
More of this literally hot news in Space.com.
(Image Credit: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory/Scientific Visualization Studio/Tom Bridgman, lead animator)