Sunny side up with telescope
– 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