The golden, bright, striking image of the Sun makes you forget just how violent the Sun is with its bubbling plasma and spontaneous eruptions.
The image is deceiving, as the forms displayed are in fact each roughly the size of the state of Texas. It is the highest-resolution image ever captured of the Sun and sheds much insight into how solar surface dynamics function, and how they may impact us on Earth.
"It's a big deal"
"It is literally the greatest leap in humanity's ability to study the Sun from the ground since Galileo's time," said astronomer Jeff Kuhn of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's Institute for Astronomy.
"It's a big deal."
The moving and shifting golden blobs on the images are in fact granules. Each of these is immense, spanning approximately 1,600 km (994 miles) — larger than the state of Texas which is 1,270 km (790 miles) long.
However spectacular these photographs are, it is these granules that truly interest scientists. When they twist and tangle because of the moving plasma, massive solar storms can take place that are able to knock out our Earthly power grids.
Lesser storms can impact navigation systems and communication on Earth too. Predicting space weather has been on scientists' list of accomplishments for many years now, and this discovery is a huge stepping stone in that direction.
This is precisely why the Inouye Solar Telescope was built.
"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," said Matt Mountain of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the agency that manages the Inouye Solar Telescope.
"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."
Given this first series of images provided by the Inouye Solar Telescope, it's safe to say the following ones over the next years will shed much light on the matter.