The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the world’s largest solar observatory, has just released the first image it captured of a sunspot. Even though the telescope has not been fully completed, this is an indication of how its advanced optics and four-meter primary mirror will give scientists the best view of the Sun from Earth throughout the next solar cycle. This image was taken on January 28, 2020 and reveals new details of the sunspot’s structure as seen at the Sun’s surface. Read more for a video and additional information.
Its streaky appearance of hot and cool gas crawling out from the darker center is the result of sculpting by a convergence of intense magnetic fields and hot gasses boiling up from below. The Sun’s heat is suppressed from reaching the surface due to the concentration of magnetic fields in this dark region. Despite this dark area of the sunspot being cooler than the surrounding area of the Sun, it’s still immensely hot with a temperature of over 7,500° Fahrenheit.
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With this solar cycle just beginning, we also enter the era of the Inouye Solar Telescope. We can now point the world’s most advanced solar telescope at the Sun to capture and share incredibly detailed images and add to our scientific insights about the Sun’s activity,” said Dr. Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), the organization that manages NSO and the Inouye Solar Telescope.