NASA sun-watching spacecraft have captured stunning video of a medium-strength solar storm on the surface of the sun, known as “coronal rain”, which projects loops of heated plasma the size of the Earth into the sun’s atmosphere.
The footage in this video was collected by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument. SDO collected one frame every 12 seconds, and the movie plays at 30 frames per second, so each second in this video corresponds to six minutes of real time.
NASA scientists wrote: “On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced a moderately powerful solar flare and a dazzling magnetic display known as coronal rain. Hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region.
“Magnetic fields, are invisible, but the charged plasma is forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms, and outlining the fields as it slowly falls back to the solar surface.
“Eruptive events on the sun can be wildly different. Some come just with a solar flare, some with an additional ejection of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and some with complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun’s atmosphere, the corona,” NASA wrote.