Maui News

New images of the Sun released from Maui’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

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New image release in honor of the Inouye Solar Telescope Inauguration Ceremony: The first images of the chromosphere – the area of the Sun’s atmosphere above the surface – taken with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on June 3rd, 2022. The image shows a region 82,500 kilometers across at a resolution of 18 km. This image is taken at 486.13 nanometers using the H-beta line from the Balmer series. PC: National Solar Observatory, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, and National Science Foundation.

US National Science Foundation celebrated the inauguration of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope atop Haleakalā on Maui with the release of two new images of the Sun.

The new images contain the highest resolution imagery ever taken of the Sun’s chromosphere, with the world’s most powerful solar telescope.

The inauguration was held on Aug. 31, 2022, and comes as the telescope nears the completion of the first year of its Operations Commissioning Phase.

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The ground-based solar observatory was designed to confront the most pressing questions in solar physics and space weather events that impact Earth.

“NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope is the world’s most powerful solar telescope that will forever change the way we explore and understand our sun,” said NSF Director, Sethuraman Panchanathan in a press release announcement. “Its insights will transform how our nation, and the planet, predict and prepare for events like solar storms.”

A delegation of NSF leaders, congressional dignitaries, and members of both the scientific and Native Hawaiian communities gathered at the NSF’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope to recognize the telescope’s inauguration on August 31st, 2022. PC: National Solar Observatory, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, and National Science Foundation.

The inauguration brought NSF leadership, telescope staff, and members of the scientific community together to acknowledge this milestone of bringing the telescope online. Representatives from the NSF, AURA, and the NSO were joined by key House and Senate staffers from the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as key staff from the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee responsible for authorizing and funding the Inouye Solar Telescope.

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Demonstrations were held during construction in 2015, blocking convoys carrying equipment from advancing up the mountain, as protestors sought protection of the mountain from desecration.

“The Inouye Solar Telescope is located on land of spiritual and cultural significance to the Native Hawaiian people. The use of this important site to further scientific knowledge is done so with appreciation and respect,” according to the NSO press release. “Members of the Inouye Solar Telescope Native Hawaiian Working Group were recognized for their invaluable role in educating NSF and NSO staff about cultural issues of importance to them and in providing cultural input throughout the telescope’s construction.”

Since OCP began in February 2022, the Inouye Solar Telescope has gathered data for more than 20 of the accepted scientific proposals and has conducted initial coordinated solar observations with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter.

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“With the world’s largest solar telescope now in science operations, we are grateful for all who make this remarkable facility possible,” said Matt Mountain, AURA President. “In particular we thank the people of Hawai‘i for the privilege of operating from this remarkable site, to the National Science Foundation and the US Congress for their consistent support, and to our Inouye Solar Telescope Team, many of whom have tirelessly devoted over a decade to this transformational project. A new era of Solar Physics is beginning.”

The first images of the chromosphere – the area of the Sun’s atmosphere above the surface – taken with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on June 3rd, 2022. The image shows a region 82,500 kilometers across at a resolution of 18 km with the Earth overlaid for scale. This image is taken at 486.13 nanometers using the hydrogen-beta line from the Balmer series. Image credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

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