THE FACE OF THE SUN

A meditative and somewhat frightening photograph of turbulent, golden bubbles circulating in the media and social networks these days represents the boiling face of the Sun with a detail that has never been seen before. The image shows the “boiling” on the surface of our star, which testifies to the fierce movement of plasma during the transport of heat from the Sun’s interior to the surface.

The photograph is an exceptional observational achievement, thanks to whom the Sun took off its veil for the first time in front of a man and showed the details of its face, hidden in a flash. The sun, about 150 million kilometers away, is photographed here in astonishing resolution – each point in the picture corresponds to a length of only 30 kilometers.

The sun is huge, so the bubble cells in the picture in nature are as big as the Balkan Peninsula together with the Carpathians, and the whole photo covers an area about 36,500 kilometers wide. As the American astronomical community AURA stated in a statement, the dark areas in the photo are colder and the plasma sinks on them, while in the bright centers the bubble plasma rises. Understanding this process will help astronomers understand the behavior of the solar corona, but also to better predict the emissions of charged particles from the sun and the so-called solar wind.

The picture was published by AURA and the American National Science Foundation (NSF), and it was created on the largest DKIST solar telescope that exists today, which is located on the island of Maui in Hawaii. From the approximately 3,000-meter-high volcanic peak of Haleakala, this new telescope is aimed directly at the Sun. According to the magazine “Science”, in order to take this picture, the telescope needs a monstrous cooling system because during the shooting, the main mirror of the telescope absorbs about 13 kilowatts of solar heat.

Understanding the Sun is certainly one of the most important issues that goes beyond any single science. The mover of life, the Sun, is actually a giant natural thermonuclear reactor in which about five million tons of hydrogen “burn” every second. By chance, although it is a very visible thing, that is, the most visible thing that a person has encountered, the Sun is hidden from a more detailed human view precisely because of its strong flash.

Unlike distant stars, where the goal is to collect as much light as possible, here the problem is different – shooting the Sun is therefore a very demanding discipline. Only certain astronomers and institutions are dedicated to this, including DKIST (Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope) in Hawaii. As it is often written lately, DKIST will be a complementary, terrestrial partner to the new SoLO satellite, which was recently sent into orbit around the Sun, in order to record it from close range.

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