Most Mighty Solar Telescope Starts Observation

Hawaii’s new Sun observatory shows detail information about churning plasma.

Most Mighty Solar Telescope Starts Observation
Hawaii Solar Telescope
Most Mighty Solar Telescope Starts Observation

Most Mighty Solar Telescope Starts Observation.


Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is the most powerful on the earth observing the Sun. Being situated at the top of Haleakala mountain in Hawaii, this 4-meters Solar Telescope has started working. This project worth $344-million and is the result of continuous efforts lasting from two decades. All-out efforts are proved to be successful as it is providing extraordinary details of the Sun. For example, it is collecting information on solar eruptions that occurs because of the Sun’s seething magnetic energy. Do the eruptions have any effect or not is the question now.

It released new images on 29 January. We can see on the Sun’s surface that the superheated gas churns by following a specific pattern. There are ‘bright’ and ‘dark’ plasma on the Sun’s surface. The bright ones represent hotter plasmas arising from the deep while the dark ones are the cooler plasmas slightly shrinking down.

This new solar telescope surpasses the previous version of the biggest (not now but earlier) of them. The 1.6-metre telescope is in southern California operated by Big Bear Solar Observatory was the biggest until Inouye started operating. According to many scientists, this new telescope will open a new chapter by regularly upgrading solar physics.   

A solar physicist, Momchil Molnar, from the University of Colorado Boulder says, “It’s going to be such a revolution for understanding the Sun.”

Before the Inouye Solar Telescope, it was not possible to measure the Sun’s magnetic field precisely. This telescope is the first to do such a task in the Sun’s atmosphere also known as ‘corona.’ If the scientists could understand magnetism’s appearances and changes in the corona, then they will be able to solve many mysteries. Some ever-peeping questions like why the corona is hellishly hotter than the surface or how magnetic fields cause massive eruptions flying all over the space and sometimes even threatens us by aiming our planet.

With the vast mirror, this telescope can study small particles withing 35 kilometres and even staying away from 150 million kilometres!  Aparna Venkataramanasastry is a solar physicist currently working at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She says, “It acts as a microscope to resolve very small features on the Sun. It’s very exciting.”

Although we have seen its first-light images taken in December, there remains a lot of tasks in the dome and the engineers are on their toes now for the construction work. They hope that they will finish this by 30 June. Thomas Rimmele says, “It’s not easy to stand up a facility like this overnight. The fact that this complex machine delivered such images right out of the box is amazing.” He is the project the project’s director at the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, Colorado. 

Under the massive mirror of the telescope, there are five instruments where sunlight will stream. The instruments work on the rotating platform. According to David Boboltz, scientists can find out the answer to many questions by mixing and matching those instruments. He is the programmed director at the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Virginia. This organization also funded to build up the giant telescope.

After hitting the primary mirror, the sunlight then focuses on an intense point. While doing this, it becomes so hot that it can pop a bag of popcorn within 3 seconds. As this immense heat can melt the telescope, it needs a supercooling system as well. Engineers made a colling system for it that needs a swimming pool full of ice each time.

The initial phase of the telescope started back in 2012. It is named after a former senator from Hawaii. For funding the telescope, the NSF lessened in funding to two older solar telescopes. One stands in Arizona and the other in New Mexico.

Another solar physicist is Stephanie Yardley. She works at the University of St. Andrews, UK. according to her, this telescope is helpful in proving that there is a rearrangement in the Sun’s magnetic field when an eruption is about to take place. It will help the researchers predicting space-weather disruptions on our planet. Lyndsay Fletcher aims at mapping solar flares. They are massive bursts that transport energy.