Amazing Sunspot Image from New Solar Telescope

by Nancy Atkinson on August 24, 2010

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The most detailed sunspot ever obtained in visible light was seen by new telescope at NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory. Credit: Big Bear Solar Observatory


A new type of adaptive optics for solar observations has produced some incredible results, providing the most detailed image of a sunspot ever obtained in visible light. A new telescope built by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Big Bear Solar Observatory has seen its ‘first light’ using a deformable mirror, which is able to reduce atmospheric distortions. This is the first facility-class solar observatory built in more than a generation in the U.S.

The New Solar Telescope (NST) is located in the mountains east of Los Angeles. It has 97 actuators that make up the deformable mirror. By the summer of 2011, in collaboration with the National Solar Observatory, BBSO will have upgraded the current adaptive optics system to one utilizing a 349 actuator deformable mirror. The telescope has a 1.6 m clear aperture, with a resolution covering about 50 miles on the Sun’s surface.

The NST will be the pathfinder for an even larger ground-based telescope, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope to be built over the next decade. Philip R. Goode from NJIT is leading a partnership with the National Solar Observatory (NSO) to develop a new and more sophisticated kind of adaptive optics, known as multi-conjugate adaptive optics. This new optical system will allow the researchers to increase the distortion-free field of view to allow for better ways to study these larger and puzzling areas of the Sun, and a 4-meter aperture telescope will be built in the next decade.

Source: NJIT

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Emilio August 25, 2010 at 3:42 AM

Ya, the surface feature surrounding the sun a spot appears to be stretched out and distorted do to magnetic field around it. There seems to be no twisting of the field as it crosses the photosphere. Why can’t they expose the sunspot for the interior? Photosphere will get over exposed but you will be able to see the inside right?

r0blar August 25, 2010 at 3:52 AM

Anyone have a link to a high res version of that photo please ? :)

Cosmic Super Ape August 25, 2010 at 8:31 AM

This creeps me out a little bit actually

darthwader August 25, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Its so wonderful that it looks like a sunflower.

Nyx August 26, 2010 at 6:03 AM

OMG! He’s Sauron! :O
Wonderful image, both aesthetically and technically ! :)

Debamboozler August 27, 2010 at 5:09 AM

First of all, this is NOT the most detailed image of a sunspot. The Swedish Solar Telescope has that honor!

Secondly, do you believe your eyes or what mainstream sicience tells you concerning the physics of the sun.

Obviously, there is NO nuclear fusion taking place in the sun’s core!

The sun has a large planetary core surrounded by a vast, abyssal sea of liquid hydrogen above which is a hydrogen gas atmosphere which is what you see in the sunspot’s umbra.

The powers that be don’t want you to know the true nature of the sun because it would render petroleum as a fuel obsolete resulting in their loss of control over this planet!

Wake up folks!!!

jimhenson August 27, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Nuclear fusion balances the inward collapse of gravity with the outward energy pressure. This gives accurate star lifetimes using the main sequence, and like hogs, the more massive stars have shorter lives. Supernova ejections at relativistic speeds of heavier elements like iron and gold are proof of core fusion, only ejected during supernova, and not during a sudden carbon phase ignition burning when hydrogen becomes depleted. When Iron is reached fusion is no longer possible for a star mass object, or there would be no limit to how heavy elements could be made. So I discredit the above theory of a liquid hydrogen layer on the sun causing heavier elements in the sun.

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