Last month, the world’s largest solar telescope captured its first image of the sun. This image is the highest-resolution and most detailed image of the sun to date.
A never-before-seen image of our star
The telescope is called the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and it’s located on Maui island in Hawaii. Construction began on the DKIST in 2012 and the telescope’s images have been much anticipated. .
“The first images from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope show a close-up view of the sun’s surface, which can provide important detail for scientists,” a news release on the National Science Foundation reads.
“The images show a pattern of turbulent ‘boiling’ plasma that covers the entire sun. The cell-like structures — each about the size of Texas — are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. That hot solar plasma rises in the bright centers of ‘cells,’ cools, then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection.”National Science Foundation
To get an idea of how much the DKIST was actually able to zoom in, here’s a photo of the Earth to scale:
And if you want to get really wild, check out this video of the sun’s cells in motion:
According to David Boboltz, a program director in NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences who oversees the facility’s construction and operations, these first images are just the beginning.
“Over the next six months, the Inouye telescope’s team of scientists, engineers and technicians will continue testing and commissioning the telescope to make it ready for use by the international solar scientific community,” said Boboltz. “The Inouye Solar Telescope will collect more information about our sun during the first five years of its lifetime than all the solar data gathered since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the sun in 1612.”