Scientists have just created the most striking and detailed image of one sunspot people have ever seen.
The image, taken on January 28th the Inouye Solar Telescope, shows magnetic structures as small as 20 kilometers on the surface of the sun, Thomas Rimmele, the associate director at NSF’s National Solar Observatory (NSO) said in a Statement of the National Science Foundation. The NSF built and operates the telescope that captured this photo, which was released Dec. 3. The solar telescope is the largest dedicated to observing the sun.
Although the image of this sunspot measures only a small part of the sun, with a diameter of only 16,100 kilometers, it is large enough that the Earth can easily fit into it. If you look at the sunspot, you will see a dark center that looks like it is springing out into the bright exterior.
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The dark area shows a concentration of magnetic fields that prevent the heat in the sun from reaching the surface. Although this dark area is cooler than the bright parts of this sunspot, it is still over 7,500 degrees Fahrenheit (4,100 degrees Celsius).
The streaks emerging from the dark area indicate pieces of hot and cool gas formed from a combination of intense magnetic fields and hot gases boiling up from below, according to the NSF.
The Inouye Solar Telescope captured this photo of a sunspot before the facility was completed. The NSF says this image is indicative of the amazing view of the coming sun, thanks to the telescope’s advanced optics and the 4-meter (13-foot) primary mirror and the arrival of a new solar cycle with an increase in activity.
“We can now aim the world’s most advanced solar telescope at the sun to capture and share incredibly detailed images and to amplify our scientific insights into the activity of the sun,” said Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Universities. Research in Astronomy, which is the Inouye Solar Telescope, said in the statement from the NSF.
Construction of the Inouye solar telescope is expected to be completed in 2021.
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