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Stunning new images show the face of the sun as we’ve never seen it before: ScienceAlert

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A new portrait from the world’s most powerful solar telescope has captured the face of our Sun in exquisite detail.

Up close and personal to the giant star, with a resolution of only 18 kilometers, the middle layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, known as the chromospherelooks almost like a shaggy rug.

A high-resolution fragment of the Sun’s chromosphere showing hair-like streams of plasma. (NSO/AURA/NSF)

In the image above you can see bright hairs of fiery plasma flowing into the corona from a sort of honeycomb pore pattern that is easier to visualize in the image below. These bubbles are known as granules, and each is about 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) wide.

Each of these portraits is about 82,500 kilometers (51,260 miles) across, which is only a single-digit percentage of the Sun’s total diameter.

To put the sheer size of these images into context, astronomers placed our own planet on top for scale.

Granules of the Sun's chromosphere.
Close-up of the Sun’s chromosphere with individual granules and Earth in scale. (NSO/AURA/NSF)

The stunning achievement marks one year since its inception Inouye Solar Telescope – the most powerful tool of its kind – and the climax 25 years of careful planning.

The Sun’s coronal chromosphere is normally invisible and can only be seen during a total solar eclipse, when it creates a red rim around the darkened star. But new technology has changed that.

Never before have we looked so closely at the source of our solar system’s light. The Inouye telescope is able to see features inside the Sun’s chromosphere as small as the island of Manhattan.

Last year, when the near-complete telescope released its first images, solar physicist Jeff Kuhn is called it is “the greatest leap forward in mankind’s ability to study the Sun” since Galileo.

Now astronomer and space telescope scientist Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), says we cut the ribbon on the “new era of solar physics”.

Insights from this new perspective will help scientists predict and prepare for it solar stormswhich can send a a tsunami of hot plasma and magnetism all the way from the Sun’s corona to Earth, possibly causing global blackouts and internet blackouts for months.

“In particular, we thank the people of Hawaii for the privilege of working from this great location, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Congress for their continued support, and our Inouye Solar Telescope team, many of whom have already dedicated more than a decade tirelessly to this transformative project. “Mountain”. said in a recent announcement.

The Inouye Solar Telescope is built on Maui’s volcano, Haleakala, which is culturally and spiritually important to the native Hawaiians. NSF is proud to say that the construction of the telescope included Hawaiians, but some Native Americans say the tool still feels as an insult to the white colonizers.

Another massive telescope destined for the dormant Maunakea volcano has met much resistance from native Hawaiianswho do not want their holy place desecrated for the purposes of Western science.

Clearly, the Inouye Solar Telescope is a huge scientific achievement for modern astronomers, but it comes at a cultural price for the ancient gazing community.

Long before Galileo, indigenous peoples around the world used the Sun, The moon and the stars to better understand our place in the universe.

The Inouye Solar Telescope allows us to peer into the center of our solar system like never before, but as our focus narrows, we mustn’t lose sight of the vistas that came before.

Standing on their shoulders, we approach the stars.

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