Photo Credit: NSO/ AURA/ NSF
Never-before-seen images of the Sun's turbulent surface have been released by astronomers in the US. The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) in Hawaii has released pictures that show features as small as 30km across the sun, reported the BBC.
This is remarkable when set against the scale of our star, which has a diameter of about 1.4 million kilometres and is 149 million kilometres from Earth. The cell-like structures are roughly the size of the US state of Texas. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma.
The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking. The DKIST is a brand new facility positioned atop Haleakala, a 3,000 metres tall volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Its 4-metre primary mirror is the world's largest for a solar telescope. The telescope will be used to study the Sun's workings. Scientists want fresh insights on its dynamic behaviour in the hope that they can forecast better its energetic outbursts - - what is often referred to as "space weather".
Colossal emissions of charged particles and entrained magnetic fields have been known to damage satellites at the Earth, to harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even to knock power grids offline.
DKIST is a complement to the Solar Orbiter (SolO) space observatory which is being launched next week from Cape Canaveral in Florida. This joint European-US probe will take pictures of the Sun from the closest ever vantage point from just 42 million kilometres from the surface.