Solar telescope captures first image of the Sun’s atmosphere

The Daniel K. Inouye Telescope aims to revolutionize solar physics, including scientists’ understanding of the Sun’s magnetic field.

A new portrait of world’s most powerful solar telescope the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, in Hawaii, United States, has captured the face of our Sun with details never seen before: Specifically, the Inouye achieved, by approaching the giant star, with a resolution of only 18 kilometers, the first detailed image of the Sun’s chromosphere, the middle layer of its atmosphere located just above its surface.

The telescope officially became operational on August 31, but the images that have now been made public were taken in June, when the Sun was almost directly over the telescope location on Mount Haleakalā.

“NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope is the most powerful in the world and will forever change the way we explore and we understand our Sun”said the director of the National Science Foundation, Sethuraman Panchanathan, in a statement.

Each of these portraits is about 82,500 kilometers (51,260 miles) across, which is a single-digit percentage of the Sun’s total diameter. To contextualize the enormity of these images, astronomers have placed our own planet on the scale.

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The Inouye telescope aims to revolutionize solar physics

Most astronomical objects can be studied with a wide variety of telescopes, but the Sun is a different matter; even a brief glance would destroy the sensitive instruments of most professional telescopes. Hence, instruments such as the Inouye are of vital importance for the study of our star.

The new telescope aims to revolutionize solar physics, including scientists’ understanding of the sun’s magnetic field. According to, a key piece is the study of space weather, that is, the outbursts of the Sun that include bright solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that launch balloons of material into space.

solar chromosphere

The chromosphere, like the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere called the corona, sIt is often difficult to see because light from the photospherewhich can be loosely described as the star’s surface, often exceeds it, reports

the sun’s chromosphere, which lies below the corona, is usually invisible and can only be seen during a total solar eclipse, when it creates a red rim around the blackened star. But new technology has changed that.

Thus, never before have we looked so closely at the light source of our Solar System. The Inouye Telescope is capable of seeing features within the Sun’s chromosphere as small as the island of Manhattan.

“His insights will transform the way our nation, and the planet, predict and prepare for events like solar stormsPanchanathan assured.


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