Aims: We present observations from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) of absorption features from a multitude of cool atomic and molecular lines within the profiles of Si IV transition region lines. Many of these spectral lines have not previously been detected in solar spectra.
Methods: We examined spectra taken from deep exposures of plage on 12 October 2013. We observed unique absorption spectra over a magnetic element which is bright in transition region line emission and the ultraviolet continuum. We compared the absorption spectra with emission spectra that is likely related to fluorescence.
Results: The absorption features require a population of sub-5000 K plasma to exist above the transition region. This peculiar stratification is an extreme deviation from the canonical structure of the chromosphere-corona boundary. The cool material is not associated with a filament or discernible coronal rain. This suggests that molecules may form in the upper solar atmosphere on small spatial scales and introduces a new complexity into our understanding of solar thermal structure. It lends credence to previous numerical studies that found evidence for elevated pockets of cool gas in the chromosphere.