The biggest solar telescope on Earth is becoming the sharpest glimpse of a sunspot.
Vaguely resembling a sunflower — the Eye of Sauron out of The Lord of the Rings — that the place appears as a dark blot wreathed by ribbons of plasma which were sculpted by magnetic fields glancing from the place’s center. At approximately 15,000 km across, the whole place could engulf Earth with space to spare.
Using its 4-meter-wide mirror, the telescope is beginning to give the highest-resolution perspectives of the celebrity (SN: 1/29/20). The ability to see details as small as 20 km across might help researchers arrive at the origin of enduring puzzles about sunlight (SN: 8/21/20), like why its outer atmosphere is a huge number of degrees warmer than its surface.
Sunspots markers where packages of magnetic fields chased through the sun’s surface. The magnetic fields suppress hot gas bubbling up from beneath, which cools the outside making it look darker than its environment. Whereas the average temperature at the surface is roughly 5,500° Celsius, the center of a sunspot could be”just” 3,700° C.
The image has been taken as part of a test conducted for that the almost-finished telescope, which ought to open for business sometime in 2021.