January 30, 2013

Condensing Coronal Rain

This movie, taken with the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) aboard the Hinode satellite, shows the chromosphere above Active Region (AR) 11620, which was rotating out of sight on the West limb on 01 Dec 2012. Taken in the light of ionized calcium, the movie shows plasma at roughly 8,000 – 20,000 degrees C above the surface of the Sun. The bright areas in the AR on the disk (foreground) are saturated so that the faint material high above the surface is visible. Several charicteristic features of the active chromosphere can be seen clearly because of the high cadence of the observations — 1 frame every 8 seconds. ‘Coronal rain’ falls down along linear trajectories from higher levels, following the magnetic field lines as plasma cools and gravity pulls it back to the surface. Bright, low loops appear in the active region, rising up and falling back. Some of the loops appear to form coherent tube-like structures that twist or untwist as they rise.

credit:  NASA

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