In the most recent and accurate images ever captured of the Sun, hot plasma stirs around the star. The pictures were spotted by Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which is located on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
The telescope is named after a former senator from Hawaii who passed away in 2012, and it is still being built. The situation of the world’s largest solar telescope has not stopped researchers testing it and announcing that it works perfectly.
“We have now seen the smallest details on the largest object in the Solar System,” said Thomas Rimmele, the director of the Inouye telescope.
Expected to Deliver Unique Information
Rimmele detailed the new images on January 24th during a teleconference, with the first of those captures being released on January 29th. They depict features of the Sun’s surface about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) across, which is approximately a third the size of anything else that has been observed on the Sun before.
The captures showcase a region of 36,500 kilometers across, which is about three times the size of Earth. They show the already familiar bubbles of plasma, brewing from deep below the surface of the star. There are also some dark lines between the bubbles, depicting newly settled clusters of bright points, which show up at the roots of magnetic fields that expand into space.
As a matter of fact, the telescope is created to observe magnetic structures on the Sun. The aim of the instrument is to understand more about the star’s corona, which is the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The solar corona is millions of degrees hotter than the star’s surface, and a more precise capture might lead to new glances into why it is so hot.
New observations could also unveil what creates gigantic eruptions in the Sun’s plasma, which can be so powerful that they meddle with technology on Earth at times.
Being on Ground Has its Advantages
The newly captured images are just an insight compared to what researchers expect to see next. The new telescope is scheduled to officially start functioning in July 2020, and engineers are now working on the last adjustments in order to get it ready.
Inouye telescope is being built on a volcano known as Haleakala, meaning ‘the house of the Sun’ in Hawaiian. When the solar observatory is ready to operate, it is expected to reveal features of the Sun as small as 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
By that time, astronomers will have three different instruments to observe the Sun: NASA‘s Parker Solar Probe, ESA‘s Solar Orbiter, and Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Solar Orbiter will observe the star from a particular vantage point, namely, its north and south poles. Parker Solar Probe intends to reach closer and directly examine the plasma and the Sun’s fields.
Even though it is based on Earth, Inouye is expected to provide astronomers with unique details about the star, mainly because it has a massive four-meter (13.1 foot) mirror. Being on the ground also has another advantage: researchers can adapt it with ease to new matters that will definitely show up.