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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Europe's largest telescope captures stunning images of the sun showing intricate details of sunspots and plasma unlike anything researchers had seen before

The sun is blazing more than 93 million miles from Earth, but new images provide an up-close look of intricate structures as small as 30 miles across on its fiery surface.
Using the largest telescope in Europe, known as GREGOR, scientists captured stunning details of sunspot evolution and complex design of solar plasma.
These are the highest resolution images a European telescope has observed, which the team attributes to new optics capable of probing the massive star's magnetic fields, convection, solar eruptions and sunspots with great detail – unlike ever before.
The photographs show solar magnetic fields taken at a wavelength 516 nanometers and sunspots at 430 nanometers, which astronomers say it is 'as if one saw a needle on a soccer field perfectly sharp from a distance of one kilometer.' 
Using the largest telescope in Europe, known as GREGOR, scientists captured stunning details of sunspot evolution and complex design of solar plasma. Pictured is a sunspot observed at 430nm
Using the largest telescope in Europe, known as GREGOR, scientists captured stunning details of sunspot evolution and complex design of solar plasma. Pictured is a A sunspot observed in high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at the wavelength 430 nm
Our star is covered in numerous cell-like structures — each the size of the US state of Texas — that are the product of the violent convection motions that transport heat up from deep within the Sun's interior.
In each, hot plasma rises up in the bright center of the cell before cooling off and sinking back into the star to form dark lanes that can be seen by GREGOR – some have compared it to the look of popcorn.

Dr. Lucia Kleint, who led the project and the German solar telescopes on Tenerife, 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.'
Kleint and her team made a breakthrough in March while under the coronavirus lockdown that allowed them to obtain the up-close look at the sun.
The photographs show solar magnetic fields taken at a wavelength 516 nanometers (pictured) and sunspots at 430 nanometers, which astronomers say it is 'as if one saw a needle on a soccer field perfectly sharp from a distance of one kilometer'
The photographs show solar magnetic fields taken at a wavelength 516 nanometers (pictured) and sunspots at 430 nanometers, which astronomers say it is 'as if one saw a needle on a soccer field perfectly sharp from a distance of one kilometer'
A sunspot observed in high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at the wavelength 430 nm. The stunning images follow the first light photos obtained in July by a team working with the Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii
A sunspot observed in high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at the wavelength 430 nm. The stunning images follow the first light photos obtained in July by a team working with the Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii
The group was stranded at the observatory, allowing them time to design a new optical laboratory.
Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina, professor at the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg and Director of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS), is very happy about the outstanding results: '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.'
The stunning images follow the first light photos obtained in July by a team working with the Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii, which allows astronomers to analyze the details of the sun's surface and learn more about how space weather forms.
These are the highest resolution images a European telescope has observed, which the team attributes to new optics capable of probing the massive star's magnetic fields, convection, solar eruptions and sunspots with great detail ¿ unlike ever before
These are the highest resolution images a European telescope has observed, which the team attributes to new optics capable of probing the massive star's magnetic fields, convection, solar eruptions and sunspots with great detail – unlike ever before
The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy president Matt Mountain said in July: 'On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately, but space weather just isn't there yet.'
Our predictions lag behind terrestrial weather by 50 years, if not more.'
'What we need is to grasp the underlying physics behind space weather, and this starts at the sun, which is what the Inouye Solar Telescope will study.'

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