Groundbreaking Optical Device Built For Widest Real-Time Views Of Vast Sun Regions


Scientists studying solar activity are often hampered by images of the Sun becoming distorted by the turbulence from the multiple layers of the atmosphere. This has been a barrier in getting detailed, real-time pictures of the activity taking place on the star's surface.

However, that issue seems resolved now thanks to a new optical device developed at New Jersey Institute of Technology's (NJIT) Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO). The new advancements made in the BBSO under new optical system have been published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The new system delivers undistorted images of the Sun to scientists on the actions at vast stretches of its surface and has helped the telescope in rendering clear images of solar flares and coronal mass ejections across Sun's structures like sunspot in the photosphere.

"To understand the fundamental dynamics of the Sun, such as the origin of solar storms, we need to collect data from as wide a field of view as possible," said Philip Goode, distinguished research professor of physics at NJIT.

Boost For BBSO Telescope

According to Goode, there has to be concurrent tracking of the spate of eruptions on the sun to measure the size, strength, and sequence of magnetic events to analyze the forces that boost the magnetic fields of the star.

In the BBSO telescope, considered world's highest resolution solar telescope, the advanced multi-conjugate adaptive optics (MCAO) is placed at the former's aperture with three mirrors.

The mirror system adjusts the shape to correct the path of the incoming light waves so that ultra-fast cameras can take 2,000 frames plus per second for detecting the aberrations in the wave path.

One more refinement is the MCAO system expanding the size of the corrected field of view obtained from the current technology called adaptive optics.

Coronal Hole Causing Solar Winds

Meanwhile, NASA said the emergence of a coronal hole on the Sun's surface is pushing blasting solar winds in the direction of the Earth.

Normally, when magnetic field lines travel from the Sun's interior to its surface, they are confined to the interior of the Sun. However, when coronal holes develop, magnetic field lines push themselves into space manifesting as solar winds.

According to a video posted by NASA on Instagram, an "elongated coronal hole rotated across the surface of the sun this past week so that it is now streaming solar wind towards Earth."

Normally, magnetosphere or the magnetic field of Earth protects humans from radiation. But powerful solar winds do disrupt satellite-based technologies.

As streams of particles from the Sun, they heat up the Earth's outer atmosphere forcing it to expand. That affects satellites in the orbit with results showing as lack of GPS navigation, failure of mobile phone signals and satellite TVs.

The surging particles from the Sun can also push high currents in the magnetosphere and trigger higher than normal electricity in power lines, with results like blow outs of electrical transformers and power stations and outages following.

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