This "Plasma Rain" on the Sun Has Scientists Baffled

NASA

NASA just captured video of a powerful solar flare that erupted and rained down plasma in giant loops. 

The phenomenon is called coronal rain:

Source: NASA/YouTube

Coronal rain happens when super-hot plasma from a solar flare falls back to the sun's surface in arching loops that get twisted by magnetic fields. 

As the plasma falls back to the surface, it rapidly cools down from millions of kelvins to just a few tens of thousands of kelvins, according to NASA. That makes the sun's atmosphere much hotter than the surface. 

"The details of how this happens is a mystery that scientists continue to puzzle out," NASA said in a statement

NASA is trying to learn more about solar dynamics and how the surface of the sun behaves. We need to learn more because a powerful solar flare has the potential to fry our electric grid if one ever hits Earth. 

Some solar flares are massive, too. The European Space Agency recently released an image to illustrate how large a flare can be compared to Earth:

Solar flare compared to EarthSource: ESA
Solar flare compared to Earth  ESA

You can watch the whole video of the plasma rain below:

Source: YouTube