Science

Never-before-seen images of Sun`s turbulent surface released

Never-before-seen images of Sun`s turbulent surface released”

Scientists have released the first images captured by the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope - the highest-resolution images of the sun's surface yet to be captured.

The surface of the roiling plasma appears broken into cell-like panels. Giant, Texas-sized cells help create convection, where heat from inside the sun is drawn up to the surface while other cells cool and sink beneath it. From Earth, we can't really make out what it is since it's an ultra-bright blob in the sky that will literally damage your eyes if you stare at it for too long, but scientists have tools that can view our nearest star in much greater detail.

Solar wind streams out from the sun, flinging energetic particles across the solar system.

Scientists believe that the photographs can help measure and understand the Sun's magnetic field.

Focusing 13 kilowatts of solar power generates enormous amounts of heat - heat that must be contained or removed. They both play a role in space weather and solar storms, and understanding the solar wind could enable better prediction of space weather. "This is essential for our understanding of what drives solar eruptions known as space weather". It has five instruments, chiefly the Visible Broadband Imager, which has a 16-megapixel sensor capable of snapping details as small as 15 miles (24.1km) across on the surface of the Sun.

One shouldn't stare directly at the sun.

While we can't look at the sun with the naked eye, or get anywhere near it in space, science has found ways to study it, and even photograph it, from Earth.

The sun's magnetic field and plasma also experience entanglement, which can release solar storms that temporarily impact our power grid. With this information, governments can better prepare for space weather - potentially 48 hours in advance, rather than the current 48 minute standard, per the press release.

The telescope on Haleakala, Maui in Hawai'i relies on a 4-metre mirror, the largest yet for a solar telescope, and requires an advanced cooling system to prevent overheating from focusing all of that sunlight. Its optics also reduce the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere.

"These first images are just the beginning", said astronomer David Boboltz of the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences.

This image won't be used for scientific research; the team will still be testing and calibrating the telescope over the next six months.

"With the largest aperture of any solar telescope, its unique design, and state-of-the-art instrumentation, the Inouye Solar Telescope - for the first time - will be able to perform the most challenging measurements of the sun", Rimmele said.



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