The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Maui captured this incredible image and it reveals thousands of Texas-sized cells oscillating between activity and inactivity, glowing and then turning dark again.
Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) in Maui, Hawaii has captured the highest-resolution image of the sun's surface so far and the images reveal a spectacular view of the star around which our world revolves. As reported by the MIT Technology Review, the image reveals thousands of Texas-sized cells oscillating between activity and inactivity, glowing and then turning dark again.
Thomas Rimmele, the director of DKIST revealed, "We have now seen the smallest details on the largest object in our solar system." The telescope, however, is still under construction and despite photographing this image at such high-definition, it has the potential of clicking even clearer images once the remaining three pieces of equipment are integrated.
DKIST has a 13-foot mirror and is poised to become the most powerful solar telescope in the world once it is fully equipped and functional. It is located at the tallest summit on Maui, on Haleakalā, and according to Technology Review, it may be able to observe the smallest structures on Sun's surface (as small as 18.5 miles in breadth) once it operates at full capacity. The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope in New Mexico, DKIST's predecessor, is 5 times less powerful than this telescope.
This is the highest resolution image of the Sun’s surface ever taken. The National Science Foundation’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope took the images from the summit of Haleakala, Maui, in Hawai‘i. Learn more: https://t.co/bEPY9apj7A— WIRED Science (@WIREDScience) January 30, 2020
Credit: NSO/AURA/ @NSF pic.twitter.com/Di5WHsPa77
DKIST has been designed to answer questions like why the sun's corona is a million times hotter than the sun's surface and once all the equipment is integrated, astronomers would also be able to understand the solar flares better. Given the fact that solar flares have a direct impact on the satellites and the navigation/communication mediums on Earth, developing a better understanding of the science behind it could have real-life benefits for everyone.
According to the report, considerable work goes into creating a telescope with such potential. DKIST, for example, has solar-adaptive optics systems that can offset photographic distortions caused by Earth's atmosphere. The shape of the mirror itself changes 2,000 times per second to adjust for the distortions. Furthermore, the DKIST uses a swimming pool of ice and 7.5 miles of piped-distributed coolant just to ensure that the metal does not melt staring straight at the sun.
first time, the smallest features ever seen on the solar surface, some as small as 30km."— ᴹʳᴹᴿᶠ⁸ (@mrmrf8) January 29, 2020
📸 & 🎥: NSO/NSF/AURA pic.twitter.com/VrOX6ImbR2
The director, Rimmele said: “We’re now in the final sprint of what has been a very long marathon. These first images are really just the very beginning." DKIST has been created to be long-lasting and has been designed to last more than four solar cycles, approximately 44 years. The initial results from the telescope are highly encouraging and astronomers are now waiting with bated breaths for even clearer images once the telescope becomes completely functional.