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Striking sunspot looks like a Star Wars sarlacc pit in telescope image

The Gregor solar telescope got a makeover and delivered some brilliant high-res views of the sun.

The Gregor telescope picked up this lovely view of a sunspot.

We're in a golden era for studying the sun. 

We've sent spacecraft to get a better look at our star. Earlier this year, a telescope in Hawaii delivered the highest-resolution image of the sun's surface ever captured. And now Gregor, a solar telescope is Spain, is getting in on the festivities. 

Gregor's team obtained "the highest-resolution images of the sun ever taken by a European telescope" after the telescope received an optical overhaul. The Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS) released two new sun views on Tuesday. 

The Gregor solar telescope captured this view of solar magnetic field structures.


One of the images shows a sunspot that resembles the toothy void of a sarlacc pit as seen in Star Wars. The dark part of the sunspot marks a relatively cool area on the sun. The other image highlights the structures of solar magnetic fields, which look a lot like the surface of a Rice Krispies treat. 

"The new optics of the telescope will allow scientists to study magnetic fields, convection, turbulence, solar eruptions and sunspots in great detail," KIS said in a statement.

The team likens the capabilities of Gregor's revamped eyes to being able to see the details of a needle on a soccer field from a kilometer away. 

"This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project," said project lead Lucia Kleint. "In only one year we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality." 

The team published a paper on the telescope's makeover in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Tuesday.

As NASA's Parker Solar Probe and ESA and NASA's Solar Orbiter cozy up to our solar system's star, telescopes back on Earth will continue to fill in details of the mysteries and moods of the sun. Stunning close-ups like the ones Gregor captured are part of the deal.