Africa-Press – Lesotho. The latest images of the hot ball of plasma that serves as the center of the solar system have offered an exciting look into the sun’s photosphere (the sun’s surface), as well as a close-up look at a variety of sunspots.
Eight new images taken by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) were recently unveiled, giving audiences quite the breathtaking view of our universe’s center. The newly released images show the movement of the sun’s plasma, details of its sunspot regions, as well as its convective cells.
The images, however, also displayed the enormous size and power of the DKIST, which is located at the Haleakala Observatory on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and is the world’s largest telescope featuring a 13-foot aperture. Astronomers still aren’t sure, exactly, of what creates a sunspot.
But the telescope’s ability to capture images of the sun in stark detail will help scientists better understand the sun’s magnetic field and other causes of solar storms, which are created during explosive events by sunspots.
The sunspots which had their images captured vary in size, however many of them are the size of Earth, if not larger. Sunspots, which are responsible for creating explosive events like solar flares, are the dark and cool areas of the Sun’s surface and affect its heliosphere, which has the highest chance of affecting planet Earth.
The DKIST will continue to collect data on the sun and its activity, as the images recently released were taken during its “Operations Commissioning Phase” (OCP), a learning and transitioning period the Haleakala Observatory runs at its fullest capacity.
The continuation of the project is good news too, as sunspot activity is based on an 11-year cycle, when the sun’s poles swap places. The sun’s most recent cycle began in 2019, and its activity will reach its peak in 2025.