The National Science Foundation’s Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope has captured the first-ever high-resolution image of the Sun.
Mounted atop the 10-000 ft-high Haleakala summit in Hawaii and placed at a distance of 93 million miles from the Sun, it has a 4-metre f/2 aperture -- the largest found on any solar telescope till date.The image, taken on December 10, is the first image to be taken by Inouye, which is still being worked upon. The 13-foot telescope is touted to become the most potent solar telescope in the world once it begins operations formally, which can happen only after July 2020.
The @NSF's Inouye Solar Telescope images the sun in more detail than we’ve ever before. Close up, these images show, for the first time, the smallest features ever seen on the solar surface, some as small as 30km. #2020SolarVision
Background: NISP/GONG. pic.twitter.com/957y0TGSON— NatlSolarObservatory (@NatSolarObs) January 29, 2020
The super close-up shot of the surface of the burning mass of gas resembles a beehive or a cellular formation. In a first, it highlights features as minute as 18 miles across, meaning those that are three times smaller than anything visible before. Each cell-like structure on the churning plasma is as big as the state of Texas, reported CNet.com.
The Inouye Solar Telescope’s shot is expected to open up new avenues for scientific research and scientists are saying this is just the beginning. The National Science Foundation believes that the super-powerful telescope is capable of contributing far more to Astrophysics in the first five years of its lifetime. They said the Inouye is likely to gather information on why the star’s surface is ever-explosive in nature.
As of now, what is known is that the Sun’s surface is like a massive furnace, burning 5 million tonnes of hydrogen every second. If this constant burning and explosion stops, life will cease to exist on Earth. The scientists are hopeful that this telescope would help map the magnetic fields found on the outermost layer of the Sun. Once scientists gain an insight into this, they would be able to understand how changes in the massive star can affect the lives of Earthlings.