The eight images released last Friday were captured by the powerful ground-based Inouye Solar Telescope. The device designed to study and photograph the surface of our star is 4 meters long and is located on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
Although the Sun is becoming more active as it approaches solar maximum predicted for July 2025 – which will be the peak of an 11-year cycle – the images show calmer spots on the celestial body’s surface.
Spectacular photos of the sun. Unprecedented details
“Cool, dark sunspots are scattered across the photosphere, the sun’s surface, where the magnetic field is strong and can be Earth-sized or larger. Sunspot clusters are the cause of solar flares and coronal mass ejections – when plasma and some of the magnetic field break away from the outer atmosphere of the sun or the corona and flow through the solar system.
These energetic bursts also have an impact on our planet – they can e.g. affect satellite and cellular communications.
The sunspot areas shown in the images are easy to recognize because of the contrast – bright, hot plasma flows up the Sun’s surface, while darker, cooler plasma flows down.
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On the other hand, the “fringe” thread-like structures found in the chronosphere – the layer of the atmosphere above the surface – indicate the presence of magnetic fields there.
These tiny, detailed structures, including the glowing “dots” that appear where the magnetic field is strongest, can be seen in the interior of dark sunspots. Surrounding these regions are bright bands from the magnetic field called “penumbra filaments” that carry heat.
The next image shows a sunspot that has lost most of its brighter surrounding area or penumbra, which appears to be fading away. Scientists believe that the remaining fragments may be the end point of the sunspot’s evolution before it disappears.-
The Inouye Solar Telescope also spotted “bridges of light.” These are bright solar structures that extend over the darkest areas of a sunspot.
These complex structures, scientists believe, may signal the imminent disintegration of a sunspot. Future observations may provide more information on the formation of light bridges and their significance.
According to the National Science Foundation, the images taken over the past year were among the first observations using the world’s largest and most powerful ground-based solar telescope in its commissioning phase. According to the agency, the telescope is now being brought to full operational capacity.
Scientists hope the telescope’s capabilities will allow them to answer key questions about the Sun, including the origin of solar storms, as well as uncover the complexity of its magnetic field, CNN reports, based on an NSF release.
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