Europe’s largest telescope shows images of the sun and complex details of sunspots and plasma

Europe’s largest telescope captures stunning images of the sun, showing complex details about sunspots and plasma unlike anything researchers have seen before

  • Europe’s largest telescope captures the sun’s first high-resolution images
  • It broke the solar magnetic fields taken at a wavelength of 516 nanometers
  • The telescope was able to take a picture of sunspots at 430 nanometers
  • The team claims that this achievement is due to the corona virus locking and new optical capabilities

The sun burns more than 93 million miles from Earth, but the new images give a closer look at intricate structures 30 miles away on its fiery surface.

Using Europe’s largest telescope, known as the GREGOR, scientists captured staggering details about solar dot evolution and the complex design of solar plasma.

The team attributes the high resolution images observed by a European telescope to the new optics, which are capable of exploring the largest star’s magnetic fields, convection, solar flares, and sunspots in great detail – unlike before.

The photos show solar magnetic fields taken at 516 nanometers and sunspots at 416 nanometers, which astronomers say is ‘like seeing a needle sharpened on a football field from a distance of one kilometer.

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Our star is encased in numerous cell-like structures – each the size of the US state of Texas – and is the result of violent thermodynamic movements that carry heat from the depths of the Sun’s interior.

In each case, the hot plasma cools at the bright center of the cell and sinks back into the star, forming dark paths visible to GREGOR – some have compared it to the appearance of popcorn.

Dr. Lucia Clint, who led the project, and German telescopes in Tenerife said: ‘This is a very exciting, but very challenging project. We completely redesigned the optics, kinetics and electronics in just one year.

Clint and his team made an improvement in March under the corona virus lock, which allowed them to get a closer look at the sun.

Photographs show sunspots taken at a wavelength of 516 nanometers (pictured) and 430 nanometers, which astronomers say is 'like seeing a needle on a football field completely sharp from a distance of one kilometer'

Photographs show sunspots taken at a wavelength of 516 nanometers (pictured) and 430 nanometers, which astronomers say is ‘like seeing a needle on a football field completely sharp from a distance of one kilometer’

A sunspot seen at high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at a wavelength of 430 Nm. Stunning images follow the first light photos taken by a team working with the Inui Solar Telescope in Hawaii in July

A sunspot seen at high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at a wavelength of 430 Nm. Stunning images follow the first light photos taken by a team working with the Inui Solar Telescope in Hawaii in July

The team allowed time to design a new optical lab and got stuck in the lab.

Dr. Svetlana Berdyukina, a professor at the University of Freiburg Albert-Ludwig and director of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS), is very pleased with the results: ‘Such telescopic upgrades usually take many years, but the project is very risky. Excellent teamwork and precise planning led to this success.

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‘Now we have a powerful tool to solve puzzles in the sun.’

The stunning images follow the first light photographs received by a team working with the Inui Solar Telescope in Hawaii in July, which allows astronomers to analyze the sun’s surface details and learn more about how space weather develops.

These are the highest resolution images ever observed by a European telescope, the team's reason for the new optics' ability to explore the magnetic fields of the largest star, convection, solar flares and sunspots in more detail than ever before.

The team attributes the high resolution images observed by a European telescope to the new optics, which are capable of exploring the largest star’s magnetic fields, convection, solar flares, and sunspots in great detail – unlike before.

Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Astronomical Research, said in July: ‘On Earth, we can predict the most accurate rainfall anywhere in the world, but space weather is not yet.’

Our forecasts are more than 50 years behind the terrain weather, otherwise. ‘

‘All we need is to understand the physics behind space weather, which begins in the sun, which is what the Inuy Solar Telescope will study.’

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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