Unprecedented: Solar Telescope Snaps First-Ever Close-up Image of the Sun’s Surface

A ground based solar telescope has managed to produce the highest resolution image of the sun's surface ever taken. In this picture, taken at 789 nanometers (nm), we can see features as small as 30km (18 miles) in size for the first time ever.

NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope has snapped an unprecedented image of the Sun’s surface, revealing unprecedented details about our solar system’s star that will help experts better understand the Sun and its impact on the planets in our solar system.

The first images of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) reveal unprecedented details of the Sun’s surface revealing a small part of the observations that are expected in the near future.

The DKIST is a ground-based solar observatory located at the Haleakala Observatory on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Being the largest solar telescope on the surface of the planet with a 4-meter aperture, it has the ability to snap incredible images of our Sun.

The solar observatory can study the Sun in visible to near-infrared wavelengths; thanks to its 4.24-meter primary mirror in an off-axis Gregorian configuration, scientists are treated with a 4-meter clear, unobstructed aperture.

The ground-based telescope will allow for a new era of solar science that promises to provide undirected details about the sun and its impact on our solar system’s cosmic bodies.

The recently released images show a close-up view of the Sun’s surface, which can provide important details for scientists. The image shows a turbulent “boiling” plasma pattern that covers the entire sun.

DKIST’s image shows cell-shaped structures—each the size of Texas—that are a sign of violent movements that transport heat from inside the sun to its surface. That hot solar plasma rises in the bright centers of the “cells,” cools down, and then sinks beneath the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection.

An explanation of the image taken by the DKIST. Image Credit: NSF.
An explanation of the image taken by the DKIST. Image Credit: NSF.

“Since NSF began work on this ground-based telescope, we have eagerly awaited the first images,” said France Córdova, NSF director.

“We can now share these images and videos, which are the most detailed of our sun to date. NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope will be able to map the magnetic fields within the sun’s corona, where solar eruptions occur that can impact life on Earth. This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms.”

Our Sun is a gigantic nuclear reactor that burns approximately 5 million tons of hydrogen fuel per second. The Sun has been functioning that way for 5 billion years and will continue for another 4.5 billion years of its lifetime.

This is the highest resolution image of the sun's surface. Image Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF.
This is the highest resolution image of the sun’s surface. Image Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF.

The Sun is crucial for life on Earth to exist. Without the Sun, life as we know it would not be possible. All of the energy that the Sun produces disperses into space in all directions, and the small fraction that reaches Earth makes life possible.

In the 1950s, scientists discovered that a solar wind blows from the sun to the edges of the solar system.

They also deduced for the first time that we live within the atmosphere of the Sun.

Despite having studied the Sun for several decades, many mysteries about ti remain unanswered.

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