A Box of Plasma Rain

Texas-sized “droplets” of solar plasma. Credit: Pete Lawrence


April 20, 2017

“Walk into splintered sunlight…”

NASA launched the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) on June 28, 2013. Its primary mission includes a study of the solar corona: why is it far hotter than the Sun’s surface, or photosphere?

Heliophysicists see formations that resemble “mini-tornadoes” in the Sun’s chromosphere. They are considering whether those structures are what transfer thermal energy into the corona. IRIS also detected “plasma rain” falling back to the photosphere from gigantic flare events.

According to the fusion model of the Sun, hydrogen is converted to helium, releasing tremendous amounts of energy. The solar core’s temperature is thought to be 15 million Celsius, with pressure 340 billion times greater than Earth’s atmosphere. Astrophysicists claim that the energy equals the force from millions of hydrogen bombs exploding all at once: 700 million tons of hydrogen are converted to helium every second, as consensus opinions propose.

The “surface” of the Sun is called the photosphere. Above that surface layer is the chromosphere, and above that is the corona, the outermost part of the Sun’s visible atmosphere. The photosphere averages 6000 Celsius, while the corona can be as much as two million Celsius! This is a great mystery among heliophysicists. How can the hottest region of the Sun occur at an altitude of 4000 kilometers, extending over a million kilometers from the photosphere, without any significant temperature drop? Based on the fusion model, as distance increases the temperature should decrease. It is a matter of simple thermal emission mechanics: temperature decreases with the square of the distance.

Plasma discharge behavior is a better model for solar activity. Laboratory experiments reveal that a plasma torus forms above the Sun’s equator. Electric discharges bridge the torus with the middle and lower latitudes. Spicules are consistent with the principle of anode tufting, a plasma discharge effect expected from a positively charged electric Sun. So-called “mini-tornadoes” observed by IRIS in the chromosphere are spicules.

The Sun’s chromosphere is a plasma sheath, or double layer region of the Sun, where most of its electrical energy is contained. When the current flowing into the Sun’s plasma sheath increases beyond a critical threshold it can trigger a sudden release of that energy, causing solar flares and gigantic prominence eruptions.

Electric forces occurring within the double charge layer above the Sun’s surface cause the observed phenomena. The Electric Sun model predicts the reverse temperature gradient and describes how it occurs. If the temperature discontinuity did not exist, that would be a problem. The Sun’s reverse temperature gradient agrees with the glow discharge model, but contradicts the idea of nuclear fusion energy trying to escape from deep inside the Sun.

Stephen Smith

With apologies to Phil Lesh and Robert Hunter

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