Have you seen the sun like this ever before?
The never-before-seen images of the Sun’s turbulent surface have been released by astronomers in the US.
The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on Hawaii has released pictures that show features as small as 30km across the sun, reported the BBC.
This is remarkable when set against the scale of our star, which has a diameter of about 1.4 million km and is 149 million km from Earth. The cell-like structures are roughly the size of the US state of Texas. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma.
The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking. The DKIST is a brand new facility positioned atop Haleakala, a 3,000m-high volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
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Its 4m primary mirror is the world’s largest for a solar telescope.
The telescope will be used to study the Sun’s workings. Scientists want fresh insights on its dynamic behaviour in the hope that they can forecast better its energetic outbursts – – what is often referred to as “space weather”.
NSF blog post”The first images from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope show a close-up view of the sun’s surface, which can provide important details for scientists. Activity on the sun, known as space weather, can affect systems on Earth.”
Colossal emissions of charged particles and entrained magnetic fields have been known to damage satellites at the Earth, to harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even to knock power grids offline.
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NSF blog post”For the time being, solar astronomers have this new tool to see our nearest star if not with perfect vision – the clearest, most detailed yet.”
DKIST is a complement to the Solar Orbiter (SolO) space observatory which is being launched next week from Cape Canaveral in Florida. This joint European-US probe will take pictures of the Sun from the closest ever vantage point from just 42 million km from the surface.