Astronomy Picture of the Day
26 February 2013

Does it rain on the Sun? Yes, although what falls is not water but extremely hot plasma. An example occurred in mid-July 2012 after an eruption on the Sun that produced both a Coronal Mass Ejection and a moderate solar flare. What was more unusual, however, was what happened next. Plasma in the nearby solar corona was imaged cooling and falling back, a phenomenon known as coronal rain. Because they are electrically charged, electrons, protons, and ions in the rain were gracefully channeled along existing magnetic loops near the Sun’s surface, making the scene appear as a surreal three-dimensional sourceless waterfall. The resulting surprisingly-serene spectacle is shown in ultraviolet light and highlights matter glowing at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. Each second in the above time lapse video takes about 6 minutes in real time, so that the entire coronal rain sequence lasted about 10 hours.

Video Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, SVS, GSFC, NASA; Music: Thunderbolt by Lars Leonhard

As spectacularly beautiful as the coronal rain is — and it is indeed, God’s marvelous handiwork that has gone on for many thousands of years with no human able to enjoy it — I am amazed at the technology that brought this video to me. The satellite observatory that holds the camera. The beams that sent the images back to earth. The scientists and administrators that decided to share these images with the world. The internet that enabled them to do it. The computer on my desk with the color screen that allows me to view it.

Daniel 12:4 “… many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Knowledge. Data. Information. Whatever is learned, discovered or invented on earth was inspired in men by God, whether or not they acknowledge it. Some of it is practical; the study of our star is quite practical in the minds of scientists. The survival of our species, our entire solar system, may depend on it.

But some is also wonderfully beautiful, great art, great music, great images of space, and of the coronal rain.

For more fascinating information and images, visit Solar Dynamics Observatory: http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/