Titan again, and coronal rain

26 June 2014

At http://phys.org/print322807085.html … anomalous amounts of nitrogen detected in the atmosphere of Titan have caused some scientists to have a rethink. Does it indicate Titan's raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn was formed? The study, a collaboration between NASA and ESA, says they have found 'firm' evidence nitrogen on Titan originated in conditions similar to those of comets (assumed to have an origin in the Oort Cloud on the outer rim of the solar system). Hence, this seems to suggest that Titan's building blocks did not form within the warm disc of material thought to have surrounded the proto planet Saturn. The implication is that Titan's building blocks formed very early in the history of the solar system (published in Astrophysical Research Letters this week). The argument relies on information derived from Titan's atmosphere, a difference in nitrogen isotopes on Titan to those in the atmosphere of the Earth – which also has implications.

At http://phys.org/print322806790.html … the Swedish Solar Telescope has revealed evidence of coronal rain showers pouring relentlessly into the dark sunspot currently on the surface of the Sun. The shower has a water fall like flow (see image at link). The rain consists of electrically charged gas (plasma). If conditions on the Sun are right, the hot dense plasma will cool and condense and will fall as coronal rain. The origin of solar coronal heating, however, remains a puzzle. The coronal rain, driven by solar flares, may play a distinct role – acting like a thermostat to regulate temperature fluctuations in the solar corona. Eamon Scullion of Trinity College in Dublin is leading the research. It all sounds a bit like the Earth's thermostat – water evaporating from the ocean (which has heated up as a result of the Sun, or  whatever) and rising into the atmosphere where it will fall as rain and cool the surface – the surplus heat being dispersed into space. Does any of the coronal rain end up being dispersed into space?

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