Here comes the Sun! The most detailed images of the Sun’s surface ever taken have now been published, courtesy of the world’s largest solar telescope.
Perched near the summit of the volcano Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope was completed this January 2020. Using a 13-foot mirror, the Inouye Telescope was able to give us incredible close-ups of the surface of the Sun.
The popcorn-like image is actually showing boiling areas of convection, a method of heat transportation. Heat is brought up from the inner layers of the Sun (shown as the bright areas), and then cools and falls back down in the thin, dark lines. Each cell area is about the same size as Texas!
The telescope doesn’t plan to stop here. Its goal is to study the corona, or the outermost layer of the Sun. The layers of the Sun can have an effect on weather here on Earth, so studying the Sun in closer detail can give us more warning time for incoming events.
Thomas Rimmele, director of the Inouye Telescope says, “To unravel the Sun’s biggest mysteries, we have to not only be able to clearly see these tiny structures from 93 million miles away but very precisely measure their magnetic field strength and direction near the surface and trace the field as it extends out into the million-degree corona.”
Interested in more space stories like this one? Catch a show in LSC’s Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in America. A portion of our “Wonders of the Night Sky” show is always set aside for LSC Space News Now stories.
Photos Via: NSO/AURA/NSF