One of the most mighty solar observatories in the world has just realized a huge upgrade. The GREGOR solar telescope from Spain is the one in question and has succeeded in capturing some of the most high-res shots of the Sun ever done in Europe.
In the upgraded GREGOR’s new photos, details as small as 50 kilometers across can be noticed amid the roiling activity on our Sun’s surface. Here is what you need to know.
New High-res Images of the Sun Reveal Odd-looking Sunspots
When Spain reopened in July and the Covid-19 issues lowered, the GREGOR team’s first thing was to fire up their upgraded telescope.
The new first light shots reveal solar granules, the heads of convection cells in the solar plasma. The center of each granule is smaller – where the hot plasma rises from underneath. This plasma goes outwards as it cools, then reaches back the depths at the darker parts of each granule.
The granules look a bit like popcorn. A typical granule is approximately 1,500 kilometers across, more than 10 % of our planet’s diameter.
“This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project,” said Lucia Kleint, a physicist and GREGOR lead scientist.
Another photo and video reveal the lone sunspot that graced the face of our Sun on July 30, 2020. It represents a temporary area where the Sun’s magnetic field is strong, inhibiting the Sun’s typical surface convection activity. It also appears a bit darker on the surface of the Sun because it is cooler than the matter around it.
Kleint also detailed: “[…] we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics, and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality.”
Images like those captured by GREGOR, and other high-res solar observatories, can help us understand many solar processes better. Also, we’ll never get tired of looking at one of the most fantastic images of our Sun’s surface.
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