The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is a scientific facility for studies of the Sun at Haleakala Observatory on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It is the world’s largest solar telescope with a 4-meter aperture. The DKIST is funded by the National Science Foundation and managed by the National Solar Observatory. It is a collaboration of numerous research institutions.
The DKIST can observe the Sun in near-infrared wavelengths. Adaptive optics correct for atmospheric distortions and blurring of the solar image, which enables high-resolution observations of features on the sun as small as 20 km.
The contract to build the telescope was awarded in 2010, with a then-planned completion date of 2017. Physical construction at the DKIST site began in January 2013, and work on the telescope housing was completed in September 2013.
Further instruments, to measure the Sun’s magnetic field, were to be added in the first half of 2020. Test images were released in January 2020, and routine science observations will begin in July 2020 after construction is complete.
DKIST Mission Regarding The Sun
“Once we have a series of images taken over several weeks and months, we can use the software we have developed to track the changes taking place on the Sun’s surface. This will really allow us to look at the Sun in ways we simply haven’t been able to before now,” says Dr. Eamon Scullion, one of only eight European members in the Inouye Solar Telescope Science Working Group.
The DKIST only just began its activity, and it already causes excitement among scientists. The images provided are revealing revolutionary information about the Sun, that will help scientist better understand space weather and sun storms. Understanding things like the Sun’s magnetic field is the only way we’ll be able to protect the Earth against the damage the Sun can do. And it is not little.
The magnetic eruptions on the Sun can severely disrupt technology and cause long-drawn blackouts. Further understanding will help the scientists predict the Sun’s activity within 48 hours before it occurs, unlike the 48 minutes we currently depend on.
This way, there will be enough time to secure power grids and critical infrastructure and to put satellites into safe mode. The new images from 93 million miles away reveal a surface of the Sun that looks like boiling gold. It a cell-like structure, and the cells are the size of France. The boiling appearance is caused by the heat waves coming from inside of the Sun.