Here comes the sun


Scientists at the University of St Andrews are helping to build the world’s most powerful solar telescope.

The telescope will be the largest ground based telescope in the world. The telescope will be called the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST). It is due to be launched in 2019 and is expected to cost $300 million (£197 million).

The project is, primarily, being funded by the US National Science Foundation.

Professor Alan Hood, an expert in solar physics at the University, has been involved in the building process of the telescope.

Professor Hood, who is based in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, said: “Ground-based solar physics is a growth area in the UK. DKIST uniquely combines high performance specifications and technology designed to visualise and capture images of the sun to increase our knowledge of the nearest star to Earth.

“Once operational the telescope will enable us to determine how the sun’s magnetic field can transfer, store and release magnetic energy in the form of heat and dynamic eruptions.”

The telescope will reveal the surface of the sun in immense detail. The telescope’s four-metre diameter mirror will visualise features as small as 18 miles on the surface of the sun.

This is the equivalent of being able to see a £1 coin from a distance of sixty miles away.

Professor Hood has hailed the telescope, which is being built at the US National Solar Observatory on Haleakala Mountain in Maui, Hawaii, as “the most exciting development in ground-based solar observation in decades.”


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