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Incredible New Images Show The Sun In More Detail Than Ever Before

by : Lucy Connolly on : 30 Jan 2020 10:34
Incredible New Images Show The Sun In More Detail Than Ever BeforeIncredible New Images Show The Sun In More Detail Than Ever BeforeNSO/NSF/AURA

Close-up images of the Sun have been released, and it looks exactly like caramel corn.

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I bet you never imagined the surface of the Sun would be an exact replica of a tasty snack. A burning fireball, maybe. Or a pile of lava. Or anything that’s fire related, basically.

But nope, the highest resolution pictures of the Sun ever captured show the star’s surface in unprecedented detail, and its resemblance to the popcorn-based snack cannot be denied.

Check it out below if you don’t believe me:

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Told you. The images were captured by the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), located in Hawaii, and were released to the public by the National Solar Observatory (NSO) on Wednesday, January 29.

The images show a pattern of turbulent ‘boiling’ plasma that covers the entirety of the Sun, while the cell-like structures on show are roughly the size of the US state of Texas.

When you can see the bright centre of cells within the video, this is when plasma is rising. In contrast, the surrounding dark lanes are only evident when the plasma cools off and sinks below the surface.

The fact that we can see all of this is a remarkable feat; the newly-released pictures and video show features as small as 30km across for the first time ever, which – when compared against the scale of the Sun, with its diameter of approximately 1.4 million kilometres – is pretty darn incredible.

close up image sunclose up image sunNSO/NSF/AURA

Professor Jeff Kuhn of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) said:

It is literally the greatest leap in humanity’s ability to study the Sun from the ground since Galileo’s time. It’s a big deal.

DKIST is the largest observatory devoted to solar research on Earth and is capable of pinpointing surface details that are just 18 miles across, making it three times as sensitive as prior methods.

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The observatory will be used to study the workings of the Sun, focusing primarily on understanding the Sun’s explosive behaviour – something that can be done by observing its magnetic fields.

Researchers using the telescope say the information it provides about the Sun’s magnetic activity could help protect electrical systems on earth, which can be disturbed by solar storms.

close up of the sunclose up of the sunNSO/NSF/AURA

They hope to map the magnetic fields within the Sun’s corona, where solar eruptions occur, as they can impact air travel, cause blackouts, and even disable technologies such as GPS.

Here’s hoping they’ll be able to release even more pictures soon. And hey, maybe it won’t look so much like corn next time.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Science, Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope, Earth, Hawaii, Space, sun, Telescope

Credits

National Solar Observatory
  1. National Solar Observatory

    Inouye Solar Telescope: First Light