This Is The Most Detailed Picture Of The Sun's Surface Ever Taken And It's Incredible

A new solar telescope in Hawaii has captured the first images and videos of the Sun. The photographs are the highest-resolution views of our star yet recorded, showing features as tiny as 18 kilometers across the Sun's surface.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is situated on the Haleakala volcano in Maui. With the main mirror 4 meters (approximately 13 feet) wide, the world's biggest solar telescope will be able to distinguish smaller features on the Sun than ever before. Scientists expect that the advanced equipment and great resolution of the telescope will help them better comprehend the lingering mysteries about our closest star.

In the telescope's "first light" photograph, plasma cells on the Sun's surface are seen as a grainy pattern. Convection occurs when heated plasma from inside the Sun rises to the surface, cools, then sinks back down, much like bubbling water in a boiling pot.

The brighter portions of the image are where the fresh plasma has just risen up from below, while the darker areas are where the colder plasma has just sunk back down. The grains in this initial picture from the telescope are about the size of Texas.

Some of our star's biggest unsolved mysteries are tied to the Sun's bubbling movements of heated plasma. Plasma's electrical charge causes its movements to generate magnetic fields. The Sun's magnetic fields produce many of its most active characteristics, such as solar storms that are capable of destroying satellites and electrical lines on Earth.

According to Rebecca Centano Elliott, a solar scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “most solar storms originate in places on the Sun where there is strong magnetism, strong concentrations of magnetic forces.”

When researchers better understand and study the Sun's magnetic fields, they may be able to better anticipate when potentially deadly solar storms may occur.

Many types of equipment on the telescope are particularly adapted to researching magnetic fields because they can detect light qualities other than brightness and color that convey information about magnetic forces in the Sun's atmosphere.

Furthermore, the telescope's capacity to catch more minute features on the Sun's surface than ever before will aid scientists in verifying hitherto unobservable ideas about the Sun's workings.

“This is a huge leap for our field, I think, in terms of observations,” says Centano Elliott.


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