The Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) has captured never-before-seen details on the surface of the sun with some of the most accurate pictures ever snapped.
A new, detailed look at solar magnetism is now available, thanks to photos of the sun's surface snapped by the New Jersey Institute of Technology's BBSO in California. Using the observatory's New Solar Telescope's new-generation visible imaging spectrometer, a team of researchers can monitor the sun's atmosphere in real time — allowing the capture of a close look at the photosphere — the sun's innermost atmospheric layer.
The pattern in the image — which looks like an artist's depiction of hell — shows ultrafine magnetic loops rooted in the photosphere.
The second photo, looking more — and somewhat appropriately — like a sunflower, supplants aas the most precise image ever taken of a sunspot, with the dark core forming the umbra and the "petals" the penumbra. "With the unprecedented resolution of BBSO's NST, many previously unknown small-scale sunspot features can now be perceived," said Wendy Cao, NJIT associate professor of Physics and BBSO Associate Director.
The NST will soon be upgraded to include a solar multi-conjugate adaptive optics system, which will correct atmospheric distortion over a wide field of view, and a fully cryogenic solar spectrograph for observing the sun in near-infrared. These new features will help the team learn more about the sun's activity and its effect on Earth, its satellites and the solar system.