Scientists release highest resolution images of the sun ever taken

Katie Ramirez
January 30, 2020

Highest-resolution photo of the Sun's surface ever taken.

The first images and videos are in from the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, and they show the bubbling, explosive surface of our sun in unprecedented detail.

DKIST is till date, the largest and most powerful solar telescope in the world, and it stands on the 10,000-foot summit of Maui's majestic Haleakala, which roughly translates to 'the house of the Sun'.

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

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.

David Boboltz, programme director in NSF's division of astronomical sciences and who oversees the facility's construction and operations said that over the next six months, the Inouye telescope's team of scientists, engineers and technicians will continue testing and commissioning the telescope to make it ready for use by the worldwide solar scientific community. "This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms".

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.

Sun images

The telescope will be used to study the Sun's workings. He said the current predictions lagged behind terrestrial weather by 50 years or more.

"On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately, and space weather just isn't there yet", Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which manages the Inouye Solar Telescope, said in a press release. The second instrument - Diffraction-Limited Near-IR Spectropolarimeter (DL-NIRSP) - allows DKIST to view the evolution of the magnetism fields of Sun in extreme detail.

These measurements could give us a far more advanced warning for solar storms; now, we generally know about them roughly 48 minutes ahead of time.

The instrument that weighs almost 2-ton created to measure the magnetism of the Sun beyond the visible solar disk.

"These first images are just the beginning", says David Boboltz, program director in NSF's division of astronomical sciences and who oversees the facility's construction and operations.

The Sun rises and falls every day, giving us plenty of opportunities to see it.

The four-meter telescope isn't complete yet and won't be until June.

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