This new picture reveals a sunspot in unequalled element

The most important photo voltaic telescope on Earth has gotten the sharpest glimpse ever of a sunspot.

Vaguely resembling a sunflower — or the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings — the spot seems as a darkish blemish wreathed by ribbons of plasma which have been sculpted by magnetic fields sprouting from the spot’s heart. At roughly 15,000 kilometers throughout, the complete spot may comfortably engulf Earth with room to spare.

The picture was captured final January by the brand new Daniel Okay. Inouye Photo voltaic Telescope on Maui in Hawaii, observatory director Thomas Rimmele and colleagues report within the December Four Photo voltaic Physics. With its 4-meter-wide mirror, the telescope is beginning to present the highest-resolution views of our star ever (SN: 1/29/20). The power to see particulars as small as 20 kilometers throughout could assist researchers get on the root of tolerating mysteries concerning the solar (SN: 8/21/20), similar to why its outer environment is hundreds of thousands of levels hotter than its floor.

Sunspots mark the place bundles of magnetic fields punch by way of the solar’s floor. The magnetic fields suppress sizzling fuel effervescent up from under, which cools the floor and makes it seem darker than its environment. Whereas the common temperature on the floor is about 5,500° Celsius, the core of a sunspot is perhaps “solely” 3,700° C.

The picture was taken as a part of a take a look at run for the almost-finished telescope, which ought to open for enterprise someday in 2021. Whereas the observatory is aiming for late spring or early summer time, says Claire Raftery, communications director on the Nationwide Photo voltaic Observatory in Boulder, Colo., the continued COVID-19 pandemic could delay the opening.

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