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  1. ITV Report

Clearest and most detailed images of the Sun captured by new telescope

The clearest and most detailed images ever captured of the Sun have been taken by the world's largest telescope.

Scientists say the new picture can help open the door to "new horizons in solar physics".

The footage was captured by the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope near the summit of Haleakalā on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), it shows a pattern of turbulent "boiling" of cell-like structures transporting heat from the inside of the sun to its surface.

Yet each segment is said to be around the size of Texas, which is three times the size of the United Kingdom.

The information will be used to provide more information about the Sun and its impact on our planet.

Experts say each of these cell-like structures is approximately the size of Texas. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

Astronomers believe the telescope, which belongs to the NSF in the US, will usher in a new era of solar science and help unlock the mysteries of the Sun and its impacts on Earth.

Mihalis Mathioudakis, a professor from Queen's University Belfast, who helped develop the cameras for the telescope, said: "The imaging produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope opens new horizons in solar physics.

"Its imaging capability allows us to study the physical processes at work in the Sun's atmosphere at unprecedented levels of detail."

The NSF's Inouye Solar Telescope images the sun in more detail than we’ve ever seen before. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

The telescope is also expected to play a key role in the better understanding of space weather.

Activity on the Sun - known as space weather - can affect systems on Earth; magnetic eruptions can impact air travel, disrupt satellite communications and bring down power grids, causing long-lasting blackouts and disabling technologies such as GPS.

NSF director France Cordova said: "NSF's Inouye Solar Telescope will be able to map the magnetic fields within the Sun's corona, where solar eruptions occur that can impact life on Earth.

"This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms."

Understanding more about solar storms will enable governments and utility companies to better prepare for future space weather events, allowing for more time to secure power grids and critical infrastructure and protect active satellites.

The information will be used to provide more information about the Sun and its impact on our planet. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

Matt Mountain, President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which manages the telescope, said: "On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately, and space weather just isn't there yet.

"Our predictions lag behind terrestrial weather by 50 years, if not more.

"What we need is to grasp the underlying physics behind space weather, and this starts at the Sun, which is what the Inouye Solar Telescope will study over the next decades."

The Inouye Solar Telescope will work with Nasa's Parker Solar Probe and soon-to-be-launched European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter to explore the frontiers of solar research.

David Boboltz, programme director in NSF's division of astronomical sciences, said: "These first images are just the beginning."