Incredible High-Res Images Of The Sun Captured By Upgraded Telescope
The largest solar telescope in Europe has delivered some glorious high-res images of the sun, showing some incredibly intricate details.
The telescope in question – called GREGOR – has recently undergone a major redesign, reopening with a significant upgrade to its optics.
This redesign was conducted by a team of scientists and engineers at the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS) in Germany, and allows for higher resolution observations of the sun than have ever before been seen in Europe.
Scientists can now use the GREGOR telescope to observe details as small as 50 km on the sun’s surface, which amounts to a very small fraction of the 1.4 million km solar diameter.
To offer a comparison made in a KIS press release, this is comparable to if a person spotted a needle on a soccer field in ‘perfectly sharp’ focus from one kilometer away.
This ability to get a good look at the sun is very important for scientific developments. By studying the sun’s magnetism in this way, scientists can better understand its impact on our planet and reduce the harmful impact of satellites and technological infrastructure.
Project leader Dr. Lucia Kleint said:
This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project. In only one year we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics, and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality.
The team achieved a major breakthrough back in March, during what was then full lockdown. Stranded at the observatory, they ended up setting up the optical laboratory from the ground upwards.
Snow storms unfortunately prevented the researchers from making solar observations at that time. However, once Spain reopened in July, they flew back straight away and were able to get obtain the extraordinary high-res images.
Director of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS), Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina, said:
The project was rather risky because such telescope upgrades usually take years, but the great team work and meticulous planning have led to this success. Now we have a powerful instrument to solve puzzles on the Sun.
Going forward, GREGOR’s new optics will allow researchers to get a closer, more detailed look at magnetic fields, convection, turbulence, solar eruptions and sunspots.
First light images taken in July show remarkable details of sunspot evolution as well as intricate structures in solar plasma.
Details of this fascinating new upgrade have been given in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
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