Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2020 February 3

Solar Granules at Record High Resolution
Image Credit: NSO, NSF, AURA, Inouye Solar Telescope

Explanation: Why does the Sun's surface keep changing? The help find out, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) has built the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii, USA. The Inouye telescope has a larger mirror that enables the capturing of images of higher resolution, at a faster rate, and in more colours than ever before. Featured are recently-released first-light images taken over 10 minutes and combined into a 5-second time-lapse video. The video captures an area on the Sun roughly the size of our Earth, features granules roughly the size of a country, and resolves features as small as 30-kilometres across. Granule centres are bright due to the upwelling hot solar plasma, while granule edges are dim due to the cooled plasma falling back. Some regions between granules edges are very bright as they are curious magnetic windows into a deep and hotter solar interior. How the Sun's magnetic field keeps changing, channeling energy, and affecting the distant Earth, among many other topics, will be studied for years to come using data from the new Inouye telescope.

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