Highest resolution video of the sun ever taken is lovely and hypnotic

James Marshall
January 30, 2020

The recently unveiled Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui island in Hawaii is the largest solar telescope in the world, and it's starting to deliver on its promise. The cell-like structures - each about the size of Texas - are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface.

On Wednesday, astronomers released what they said were the most detailed images ever taken of the surface of our sun.

"Since NSF began work on this ground-based telescope, we have eagerly awaited the first images", France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, said in a news release. Grist for campfire philosophizing and armchair astrobiology.

Here, 93 million miles from the nearest star - the one we call the sun - the creatures of Earth eke out a living on the edge of nearly incomprehensible violence.

The sun is our nearest star-a enormous nuclear reactor that burns about 5 million tons of hydrogen fuel every second. That energy makes it way outward, through boiling gas pocked with magnetic storms that crackle, whirl and lash space with showers of electrical particles and radiation.

Just taking it all in is pretty wonderful, but of particular interest to scientists are those magnetic fields, twisted and tangled by plasma, which can result in powerful solar storms capable of knocking out power grids (albeit extremely rarely) here on Earth.

Pinpointing how the Sun affects the Earth One of the instruments that the IfA scientists are working on is the Cryogenic Near-Infrared Spectropolarimeter (CryonIRSP).

In outer space, the sun's stream can endanger astronauts. It can track changes and the evolution of the Sun's magnetic fields in detail.

Each of the panels contain cycles of convection, with the hottest plasma rising to the center and then moving to the edges before sinking as it cools.

Observations made by the Inouye Solar Telescope will help scientists study the behavior of the highly variable magnetic fields that flow through the sun's plasma. Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian.

Studying the Sun's magnetic fields The Sun's surface isn't as calm as it looks from Earth. It was originally known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, and was renamed in the honour of the late Senator Daniel Inouye in December 2013. The telescope has a primary mirror that is about 158 inches in diameter.

Behold the Sun's convulsing surface at a level of detail never seen before!

The construction of the Inouye Solar Telescope was no easy feat. How does it happen?

"It's all about the magnetic field", said Thomas Rimmele, director of the Inouye Solar Telescope.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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