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Last week, NASA published a jaw-droppingly beautiful and kinda terrifying video called "Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun" - Hank takes some time to explain why the video is awesome in today's SciShow News.

Watch NASA's video:
Check out the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

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Welcome back to SciShow News from wherever else you've been on the internet. Well you weren't looking at the 20 Best Animal Poets according to BuzzFeed. 

 Fiery Looping Rain on The Sun

I hope you saw NASA's jaw-droppingly beautiful and kinda terrifying video, Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun, because there's nothing more relaxing and confidence inspiring than watching a video in which our sun appears to be falling apart.

Now I don't actually understand much about the physics of the Sun but fortunately we can say with some confidence that its not dying of Ebola and what's happening in the video is totally normal. Recorded by NASA over 22 hours last July, the 4 minute video shows a sped up version of ordinary solar activity. The sun's super-strong magnetic fields move around, bump into each other and re-arrange themselves all the time and when they do this, they can release huge blasts of radiation, solar flares or gigantic bubbles of plasma called Coronal Mass Ejections. The video captures both of those activities.

 Coronal Rain

Also shown in the video is Coronal Rain, which is when plasma released from a Coronal Mass Ejection, trickles back into the surface along solar arcades, which are magnetic forces shaped like loops. Its pretty intense but its normal and gorgeous.

So why haven't we seen the Sun's golden arches before? Well because we haven't really had the technology.

 Solar Dynamics Observatory

We can see them now thanks to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The Observatory, which just turned 3 in February, is an Earth orbiting space craft that watches the Sun with a battery of awesome tools. Like 4 telescopes, each  with 10 times the resolution of a high definition TV and other special thingamajigs that measure UV output and magnetic fields.

With this observatory we're able to see not only what's happening on the surface of the sun, but also what's happening inside it. Which yields in addition to pretty videos, a better understanding of how the sun works and frankly, we need some more understanding of the Sun, which has been surprisingly variable and hard to predict and cantankerous. Solar activity has seriously messed up transit systems, made cell phones stop working, given us ultra bad sunburns and radiated the crap out of astronauts. But radiations not all bad, it also gives us the beautiful auroras.

 Predict Solar Activity

All the same now it would be nice to be able to predict solar activity ahead of time. The observatory and its 5 year projected life span will send us about 50 times more data than any mission in NASA history all about the Sun, baby.

Scientists at  Goddard Space Flight Center, Stanford, Lockheed Martin and the University of Colorado monitor what comes out of the observatory but the data is also open to the public. So you too can go to The Solar Dynamics Observatory website and spend hours making sure the sun isn't exploding.


Thanks for watching this special edition of SciShow News. If you have any questions or ideas, we're on Facebook and Twitter and of course, in the comments below. And if you want to keep up to date with all the latest Science breaking news, you can go to and subscribe.