Newly released pictures from the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii show the sun’s surface in never-before-seen detail. The new telescope has the capability of depicting landmarks as small as 18 miles across quite clearly and features the world’s largest solar mirror, measuring about 13 feet.
NBC News reports that the pictures show a layer of turbulent, “boiling” gasses covering the sun. Inside visible cell-like structures, each around the size of the U.S. state of Texas, hot plasma can be seen rising before cooling off and sinking below the surface in dark lanes, as part of a process called convection.
Scientists hope that an intensive study of the sun’s surface could lead to a better understanding of its behavior and impact on magnetic fields.
From the BBC:
Colossal emissions of charged particles and entrained magnetic fields [Space Weather] have been known to damage satellites at Earth, to harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even to knock power grids offline.
“On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately, and space weather just isn’t there yet,” said Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which manages the DKIST. “Our predictions lag behind terrestrial weather by 50 years, if not more. What we need is to grasp the underlying physics behind space weather, and this starts at the Sun, which is what the Inouye Solar Telescope will study over the next decades.”
Watch the full video above.