The U.S. National Science Foundation has released the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope’s first image of a sunspot, a spectacular, zoomed-in view captured on 28 January that shows a remarkably detailed view. While the 4-metre telescope is still undergoing tests and checkout, the image exhibits “a spatial resolution about 2.5 times higher than ever previously achieved, showing magnetic structures as small as 20 kilometres (12 miles) on the surface of the Sun,” said Thomas Rimmele, associate director at NSF’s National Solar Observatory, the organisation that operates the Inouye facility. The image is about 10,000 miles across, large enough for Earth to fit inside.
Nearly four billion years ago, life arose on Earth. Life appeared because our planet had a rocky surface, liquid water, a blanketing atmosphere and a protective magnetic field. A new study of the young, Sun-like star Kappa Ceti shows that a magnetic field plays a key role in making a planet conducive to life.