According to NSF director France Cordova, with this telescope, scientists will be able to map the magnetic fields in the Sun that can impact the Earth.
The US-based National Science Foundation (NSF) has been able to capture the detailed images of the surface of the Sun. NSF’s 4-metre Inouye Solar Telescope facility in Hawaii has revealed the detailed pictures which will help scientists understand the Sun and its impact on Earth, according to the statement of NSF. The images show a close-up of the Sun’s surface, detailing a pattern of boiling plasma. The plasma resembles a cell-like structure and each cell is approximately the size of Texas in the US. These cells signify the motions transporting the heat from the Sun’s core to its surface.
Activity that takes place on the Sun is called space weather and it can affect how things work on the Earth by its magnetic eruptions. It can impact air travel, power grids and satellite communications, effectively causing long blackouts and failure of GPS technology. According to NSF director France Cordova, with this telescope, scientists will be able to map the magnetic fields in the Sun that can impact the Earth. It will also help them understand what drives space weather, leading to better prediction of solar storms, he added.
According to Matt Mountain, President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which manages the telescope, while it is possible to accurately predict rainfalls with available technologies and information, the statement does not hold true for space weather. The predictions on solar storm lag by at least 50 years, he added, and to resolve this, scientists need to understand the physics behind space weather. For that, scientists first need to understand the working of the Sun, and thus, the achievement unlocked with the help of the solar telescope is the first step towards a study that will last a few decades.
According to the currently available knowledge, Sun’s plasma constantly keeps twisting and tangling the magnetic fields of the Sun. This affects the way the technologies function on Earth. As per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, when Hurricane Irma made landfall in 2017, simultaneous space weather event disrupted the radio communications which were being used by first responders, maritime and aviation channels. Resolving the minute details of what drives these magnetic fields and changes is what sets the Inouye Solar Telescope apart, as it can measure and characterise the magnetic field of the Sun in more detail than ever before.