A new telescope for observing the Sun saw the "first light". Located in Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is capable of capturing images of the star's surface with unprecedented resolution. And the first images presented in a press release from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) are truly impressive.
The new four-meter telescope has become the planet's largest solar exploration tool. It is located on the island of Maui, on the slope of the inactive volcano Haleakala, at an altitude of about 3000 meters. The tool was named after a major American politician, long-term senator from the state of Hawaii, Daniel Ken Inouye (Daniel Ken Inouye).
DKIST allows you to distinguish objects less than 30 kilometers in size at maximum magnification, as well as to obtain panoramic images of the surface, taking almost 40 thousand kilometers into the lens. The first published DKIST images clearly show granules, huge (by our earthly standards - about 1000 kilometers across) formations in the solar photosphere. Such granules can be thought of as the tops of convective columns that stretch from the interior to the surface of the Sun. An incandescent plasma rises in the light central region of such a column and, when cooled down, descends along its darker edges.
Unprecedented DKIST resolution distinguishes individual parts up to 30 kilometers / © NSO, NSF, AURA
“To uncover the main secrets of the Sun, we need not only to clearly see these structures from a distance of 150 million kilometers, but also to accurately measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields near the surface, as well as trace their continuation in the red-hot corona, the outer part of the solar atmosphere”, - says DKIST Director Thomas Rimmele.
Accelerated recording shows 10 minutes of turbulent motion in the Sun / © NSO, NSF, AURA
Understanding these processes will allow us to better navigate the "space weather" in the vicinity of the Sun, which is determined by the activity of the star. The performance of satellites depends on it, it can decide the fate of distant space probes - and sometimes it is felt on Earth. The streams of solar particles that reach the near-earth orbit, and sometimes penetrate into the atmosphere, can disrupt the operation of communication and navigation systems, cause auroras and "geomagnetic storms".
Today, heliophysicists can predict such "weather anomalies" only less than an hour before the start, but they hope to increase this period to at least a couple of days, which will make it possible to better prepare for the arrival of potentially dangerous streams of solar particles.