New Delhi: Astronomers in the US have released never-before-seen images of the Sun’s turbulent surface. The detailed view of the Sun has been released using the largest solar telescope – Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST).
“It is literally the greatest leap in humanity’s ability to study the Sun from the ground since Galileo’s time. It’s a big deal,” said a researcher Professor Jeff Kuhn.
The instrument that weighs nearly 2-ton designed to measure the magnetism of the Sun beyond the visible solar disk. The second instrument – Diffraction-Limited Near-IR Spectropolarimeter (DL-NIRSP) – allows DKIST to view the evolution of the magnetism fields of Sun in extreme detail.
“These instruments use sensitive infrared technology and complex optics that reveal sunspots and small magnetic features, and how their magnetism reaches into space. With these new tools we expect to learn how the Sun interacts with the Earth,” said Kuhn.
The imagery which was released on January 29, 2020, provides a view of cell-like structures that are of the size of Texas rolling on the surface of the Sun. It also shows tiny footprints of magnetism that reach in the space.
Scientists that operated the telescope said that the unprecedented detail demonstrates the power of the telescope based on the ground for mapping the magnetic fields within the corona of the Sun, where solar eruptions occur impacting life on Earth.
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.
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”.
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.
(With agency inputs)