Never-before-seen images of Sun's turbulent surface released

Never-before-seen images of Sun's turbulent surface released

Never-before-seen images of Sun's turbulent surface released

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.

Astronomers on Wednesday released first images from a newly operational telescope revealing most detailed images of the sun's surface and preview the transformative images to come from this 13-foot solar telescope.

"What we need is to grasp the underlying physics behind space weather, and this starts at the Sun, which is what the Inouye Solar Telescope will study over the next decades".

The telescope that delivered these goods is the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakalā, Maui. Up close it is a different story. "Altogether, they constitute a genuinely multi-messenger undertaking to understand how stars and their planets are magnetically connected". Every second, thermonuclear reactions in the center of the sun turn 5 million tons of hydrogen into pure energy. These are huge bubbles of radiation and solar particles that explode into space at very high speeds.

Space weather, these showers are called.

Just taking it all in is pretty incredible, 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. Next to weightlessness and boredom, the radiation hazards from space weather are considered the biggest obstacles to human travel to Mars and beyond. It can track changes and the evolution of the Sun's magnetic fields in detail.

Sun images

The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking.

The telescope will be used to study the Sun's workings.

The telescope was originally known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, and was renamed in the honour of the late Senator Daniel Inouye in December 2013. For a sense of scale, that video covers a width of the solar surface equal to about one and a half times the diameter of the Earth, or about 1/73rd of the diameter of the sun itself.

The telescope, positioned on the summit of Mt. Haleakala in Hawaii, has been a 10-year planning and construction project. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma. In the corona that billows outward from the surface in streamers seen during solar eclipses, temperatures reach 1 million degrees.

Joining the Inouye telescope in this coronal detective work are NASA's Parker Solar Probe, now orbiting the sun, and the joint NASA-European Space Agency Solar Orbiter, scheduled to be launched next week, in what amounts to a new coordinated effort to investigate our old shining friend.

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