Throughout our space adventures, one of the most spectacular events that Bong and I have witnessed during our days as cadets was rainstorms on the sun. No, really. It rains on the sun! And when it rains there, it POURS! And if you hate getting wet during a rainstorm on your planet, imagine getting drenched in sizzling hot plasma!
On April 19, 2010 NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was able to catch quite a show on your sun. According to their records it was the largest storm in many years. You see there was this massive eruption on the surface of the sun. The eruption threw up billions of tons of plasma into the sun’s atmosphere.
And as we all know, what goes up must come down — so when the plasma gets pulled back towards the sun, it slows up and starts to fall like rain does on planet Earth. Scientists have been trying to figure out for years why the sun’s massive gravity doesn’t just pull that plasma down just as fast as it throws it up into the atmosphere. But on April 19th, the NASA scientists got their answer!
As you can imagine, the sun is extremely hot. And when the plasma gets shot into the atmosphere a burst of superheated gases follows it. So when the plasma streams starts falling back towards the sun, the first thing that it encounters is that superheated cushion of gases which … slows the plasma down so that it looks like it’s raining!
Would you like to get a peek at this solar rainstorm? I thought you would. You can watch a portion of this four hour event by clicking here. Pretty cool hot, huh?