Sunny side up with tele­scope

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Washington

– A huge tele­scope built on the peak of a Hawai­ian is­land has pro­duced pic­tures of the Sun’s sur­face in un­prece­dented de­tail, re­veal­ing boil­ing plasma cells the size of Texas.

The Sun is a gi­ant ball of plasma (elec­tri­fied gas) that has been ob­served from Earth for cen­turies from tele­scopes, and via satellites for decades.

But the res­o­lu­tion has been lim­ited: the Ja­panese space tele­scope Hino­tori had a mir­ror of 50cm.

The new Daniel K Inouye So­lar Tele­scope on the is­land of Maui has a 4m mir­ror, the world’s largest for a so­lar tele­scope.

“These im­ages have the high­est res­o­lu­tion that you’ve ever seen,” said Thomas Rim­mele, the tele­scope’s di­rec­tor.

“We now see struc­tures that we sus­pected would be there, based on com­puter mod­els, but we never had the res­o­lu­tion to re­ally see them.”

Im­ages pub­lished Wed­nes­day show a pat­tern of boil­ing plasma cov­er­ing the Sun in cell-like struc­tures. These are the re­sult of vi­o­lent mo­tions trans­port­ing heat from the star’s in­te­rior. – AFP

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