One of the most remarkable solar based observatories on the planet has recently completed a significant upgrade.
In the upgraded telescope’s new photos, details as small as 50 kilometres (31 miles) across can be observed in the midst of the roiling activity on the surface of the Sun.
“This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project,” said physicist and GREGOR lead scientist Lucia Kleint of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS). “In only one year we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics, and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality.”
While COVID-19 pandemic has been a block to scientific research, right now, they proved supportive. As indicated by a post on the KIS website, researchers were stranded at the observatory during the March lockdown in Spain. Instead of wasting time, they got the chance to set up the optical lab.
They were able to correct two noteworthy issues presented by a couple of mirrors, coma and astigmatism, that brought about obscured and contorted pictures.
In view of the design of the optics lab, and the restricted space in that, these mirrors had to be totally supplanted with off-axis parabolic mirrors, polished to an precision within 1/10,000th the width of a human hair.
Blizzards thwarted observations for some time at that point, but when Spain reopened in July, the first thing the GREGOR team did was fire up their upgraded telescope.
The new first light photos show solar granules, the tops of convection cells in the solar plasma. The center of every granule is lighter; that is the place hot plasma ascends from underneath. This plasma moves outwards as it cools, and then falls again into the depths at the more obscure edges of every granule.
They look somewhat like popcorn, yet don’t be tricked – an average granule is around 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) across, a little more than 10% of the diameter of Earth.
Another photo and video show the solitary sunspot that graced the substance of the Sun on July 30, 2020. This is a transitory region where the Sun’s magnetic field is especially powerful, inhibiting the Sun’s typical surface convection movement; it seems hazier on the surface of the Sun since it is cooler than the material around it.
These sunspot regions are of serious enthusiasm to us, in light of the fact that these magnetic field lines snap, tangle and reconnect. That magnetic re-connection brings about the arrival of overflowing measures of energy, creating solar flares and coronal mass ejections – a marvel that can influence us here on Earth, impacting satellite navigation and communication.
Photos like those acquired by GREGOR, and other high-resolution solar observatories, for example, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii, with a resolution of 30 kilometres, alongside the Big Bear Solar Observatory in the US, can assist us to better comprehend these solar activities.
Also, we’ll never become bored of taking a gander at the mind-blowing photos of the surface of our Sun.