Built on the side of volcanoon the island of Mauiarchipelago of Hawaii, the telescope solar Daniel-K.-Inouye, — that of the National Science Foundation (United States) which was named before the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope — is reputed to be the most powerful telescope in the world intended to observe our Sun. And a few days ago, on the occasion of its official inauguration – it has already been collecting scientific data for several months – the teams in charge of its operation published two new breathtaking images of our Star

Their quality is all the more incredible since we are not talking about a probe sent to “burn its wings” near the Sun. But a telescope on the ground. With a mirror 4 meters, perched at some 3,000 meters above sea level and protected from the light pollution and turbulence atmospheric by an oceanic environment.

The solar chromosphere in all its states

On the two images published during the inauguration of the Daniel-K.-Inouye solar telescope, we discover the chromosphere of our Star. Understand the bass atmosphere of the Sun. This layer of gas located just above its visible surface.

One of the pictures shows what the astronomers call solar granulation. The phenomenon was first identified in the early 19th century, by William Herschel. Convective cells, as researchers have known since the 1930s, each about 500 to 1,000 kilometers large. And whose duration life is rather short. About ten minutes only.

The other image, just as bewitching, shows sorts of streaks which are in reality nothing more than jets of a plasma at very high temperature.

The surface of the Sun as you’ve never seen it before!

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Terrestrial Telescope has just acquired its first images of the Sun. They are quite simply the finest and finest of the surface of the Sun ever obtained. This unprecedented ability to observe the Sun promises a spectacular leap in the knowledge of the phenomena at the origin of its activity which influences the meteorology spatial.

when’European Space Agency and the Nasa are preparing to launch the probe Solar Orbiter in a few days and that the American Parker Solar Probe approached only 19 million kilometers from the Sun, it is a solar terrestrial telescope which makes the news. Indeed, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST for Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope), scheduled for commissioning this summer, has acquired its first images and they are the most precise ever recorded of the surface of the Sun. The smallest details that can be discerned there are barely 30 kilometers in size! What, on the scale of the Sun, a star that is nearly 1.4 million kilometers in diameter, is microscopic

Convection cells in perpetual motion

What we see are the cells of convection that make up the surface of the Sun. They measure more or less 1,000 kilometers in diameter and are constantly changing. They deform, appear and disappear according to the movements which occur under the surface of the Sun and which lead the hottest gas to rise from the interior of the star to the surface.

Built on Haleakala Mountain on the island of Maui in Hawaii, DKIST is the largest solar telescope in the world capable of acquiring ultra-detailed images of the Sun’s surface, and this with a resolution twice as high as other solar observatories in service. Until today, solar telescopes had mirrors with a diameter of up to 1.50 meters. This off-axis telescope is equipped with an active primary mirror 4.2 meters in diameter, with thermal control and adaptive optics. DKIST is also the most complex and technical solar telescope currently in service.

This telescope was designed to better understand the role of the Sun, mainly its magnetic fieldin space weather.

Two stunning new images show the Sun more beautiful than ever

The Inouye terrestrial telescope delivers two sublime views of the Sun’s surface. Each image shows an area of ​​82,000 kilometers, which is several times the Earth.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, the images and data produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope will write the next chapters in solar physics research, including two new images released to celebrate this week’s events,” the National Science Foundation announced in a post from September 5, 2022.

To celebrate the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope’s first year of operation, two new images of the Sun have been released to the public. These are simply amazing.

The Inouye telescope has a 4 meter mirror

The quality of the shots is all the more impressive since it is not a probe close to the Sun, like Solar Orbiter. The observatory is located on Earth, on the island of Maui, more precisely on Mount Haleakalā. The site is ideal, being both raised 3,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by the ocean. This means that the sky is completely dark, with little turbulence in the atmosphere, no light pollution.

The construction of the telescope itself is one of a kind. Its mirror is the largest of all observation devices dedicated to the Sun, 4 meters wide. In doing so, it captures 7 times more sunlight than any other terrestrial telescope. This is how he was able to obtain such unpublished images.

What do we see in these images of the Sun?

Both photos show us the chromosphere, the lower atmosphere of the Sun (and of any star). Each of them corresponds to an area of ​​82,500 kilometres, with a total diameter of 1.3 million kilometres. For comparison, the Earth measures “only” 12,700 km. This means that in scale, we can place several earths on these solar portraits:

On the image above which somewhat resembles a beehive, we observe the solar granulation. Each cell is approximately 500 to 1,600 kilometers wide. They extend at a speed of between 1.6 and 2.6 kilometers per second, their lifespan rarely exceeds 10 minutes, in a dynamic phenomenon of permanent recomposition.

As for the trails that you see on the other image, they are in fact jets of burning plasma.

“A new era of solar physics is beginning! “, rejoiced Matt Mountain, president of AURA (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy). And obviously this new era will amaze us.

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