back to article In case you wanna launch your boss into the Sun, good news: Earth's largest solar telescope just checked and, yeah, it's still pretty fiery

The first images from Earth's largest solar telescope are providing the most detailed, close up views of our Sun yet seen. A time lapse of the pictures reveal masses of deep orange colored blobs expanding, and jostling among one another, on the surface of our star. These globules are hot balls of plasma rising and falling via …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Having better predictions for space weather is important to our modern, technology-driven society"

    Oh, I thought the rise of popularism meant we were all perfectly happy as a society going back to the stone age.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: "Having better predictions for space weather is important [...]

      > perfectly happy as a society going back to the stone age

      True, but only in the social and political domain, definitely not concerning the creature comforts: People still need their aircon, the fridge, the TV, Facebook/Twitter, and so on. Nobody is willing (or able) to run around half-naked with a sharpened broomstick hunting for (the rare) animals to sink his (bad) teeth into. And how is he going to post a picture of the dead poodle he is about to eat on Instagram? What's the point in feeding when his "friends" can't even see what he's going to eat?...

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: "Having better predictions for space weather is important [...]

        Not to mention first SARS the MERS and now this new coronovirus show that eating wild animals can be a bad idea.

  2. bon_the_one

    Reg units

    Not sure about 'Texas' being a Reg unit. No idea how big/small it is. Please clarify in Wales'

    1. Chunky Munky

      Re: Reg units

      Da iawn diolch

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Reg units

      33.4806 Wales'

      You're welcome.

      1. mr.K

        Re: Reg units

        I like it when it is possible with an exact conversion between my units of measurements so Wales being so close to 3%, can we just define it to be exactly that? We just need to add 135 km2 to Wales or remove 4495 km2 from Texas. I am sure people will understand the reasoning and thus not create any tension.

        1. The Nazz Silver badge

          Re: Reg units - Wales

          Out of curiousity ( and some laziness ie not googling) is the area of Wales calculated at sea level or does it take into account all the slopey bits?

          1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

            Re: Reg units - Wales

            High tide or low tide, or something in between?

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Reg units

      What I don't get is this obsession with Texas. Normally, Americans only refer to the number one, the winner. The number two is by definition not good enough.

      So the reference should be Alaska.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Reg units

        half an Alaska then? Or would that be a quarter Alaska?

        We need these new measurements STANDARDIZED, dammit!

        Until then, I guess we can measure it in Wales' (we're still using inches and feet over here, might as well use Wales')

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: half an Alaska then? Or would that be ...

          There's no need for such a set of half-baked "Alaska" units...

          /ob Sorry Chef!

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Boffin

            There's no need for such a set of half-baked "Alaska" units...

            Quite.

            Because there's the DRC unit of area; with its 0.88 kiloWales it's the right magnitude already.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Reg units

          half an Alaska then? Or would that be a quarter Alaska?

          Alaska is 82.68 Wales (0.7298 DRC), Texas is a mere 33.51 Wales (0.2958 DRC), so Alaska is 2.467 Texas.

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Reg units

        "Don't mess with Alaska!" ... just doesn't have the same ring about it, though.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Reg units

          Also, what would the expressions "Ten-gallon hat" and "All hat and no cattle" turn into? "Ten-gallon snowboots" and "All sno-track and no meese"?

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Reg units

        "So the reference should be Alaska."

        So, you're saying Texas is just a huge No.2? I hope you are not planning on visiting any time soon.

      4. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Reg units

        Is that Alaska with or without the Aleutians?

    4. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Reg units

      The EU tends to use Belgium for this kind of thing. That's three different units. I expect the Aussies use Tasmania.This madness must stop.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Reg units

        Belgium is metric; for those regions still using imperial you'd probably use Texas or Alaska. Wales and DRC are just magnitude modifiers for Belgium and thus allowed, though I'm not sure what the status of Wales as a measurement is going to be after tomorrow. Is it covered in the WA?

        1. John Sager

          Re: Reg units

          As a unit, Wales is far too large, as we have to use milli and micro Wales. I suggest the new post-Brexit unit should be the Lundy. Not sure of the conversion from Wales, but it should have comfortably many significant figures.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Reg units

        I expect the Aussies use Tasmania.
        Nah, not as a land-area size comparator. But it is used in other contexts.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Yes we do

          And I* demand that the Reg Standards Bureau ratify it as a official standard forthwith. (Can't have those yank sneaking in their region-based area standards first.)

          *I also demand that I am Australian.

      3. Champ

        Re: Reg units

        > I expect the Aussies use Tasmania.

        Do you have a map?

        1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

          Re: Reg units

          We had one somewhere. I'll go and ask Mrs S_F, she may have hidden it.

  3. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    looks a bit like oatmeal

    looks a bit like oatmeal. I assume it's "boiling" ?

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: looks a bit like oatmeal

      I remember my Granny serving up porridge that was positively molten - to catch out the unwary.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: looks a bit like oatmeal

      Based on the image and the description, it seems that basically the Sun is just a giant lava lamp.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh really ?

    On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately"

    Really ? Please give me a web site where I can get that level of accuracy. Unless your accuracy is : on Earth, because my weather reports have trouble telling me which day it's going to rain. I can't count the number of times I check the weather site the day before, and am told rain, and then I check the weather the next morning and I'm told overcast.

    I'm sorry, but if your forecast is only good for two hours, you haven't forecast anything.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Oh really ?

      "slight chance of rain" either equals 'no rain at all' or 'streets are kinda flooded' in my neck of the world.

      "Coastal Desert" - when it rains, it floods! Well, not always, but still...

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Oh really ?

      (I came in here to say exactly the same thing, but apparently 38mins too late.)

      Methinketh the space scientist has been reading the media's version of the climate scientists' genius.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Oh really ?

      When I first came to live in Spain, I took Spanish lessons, the husband of my teacher was the senior meteorologist for the region.

      I told him ' when we are sailing, apart from a sorm warning printout service we have on board, the most reliable forecasting is going up on deck and looking at the sky and the sea state'.

      He said that is more or less what he did before going to work each day, went up to the roof of his apartment and checked real time what was going on.

    4. Pete4000uk

      Re: Oh really ?

      Meteoearth.com

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    So if Texas is "gigantic"...

    What does that make the Sun, or the Solar system even?

    1. Solarflare

      Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

      "even bigger"

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

        "even bigger" "more biggley"

        FTFY

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

          I didn't know biggly had two gs. You learn something every day!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

            That's because biggly is more biggly than bigly. It's like the difference between yuuge and yuuuge.

    2. stuartnz
      Pint

      Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

      I'm pretty sure the canonical definition is the one we (tinw) all know best:

      "big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is"

    3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: So if Texas is "gigantic"...

      Gigantor

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm curious to know why they don't use all that heat to generate electricity.......

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Coat

      Coz it melts the wires?

    2. Grikath

      Mayhaps because it is an observatory, not a powerplant?

      The telescope is not aimed at the sun as soon as it is visible, and the primary purpose is not power generation, but imaging. The purpose of the cooling system is to get the excess heat away from the optics as fast and efficiently as possible, before it, y'know, melts.

      Now, for the sake of argument, it would be possible to do something fancy with the heat with stirlings or other heat-exchange power generation, but it'd run only about a couple % of the time, during actual observations. But for the cost of that kind of infrastructure I'd bet you you could put up a lot of bog-standard solar panels which would also work when you're not observing the sun..

      I'd put the money in extra-redundant cooling, personally, and not worry about a couple of "wasted" Joules when that means my equipment won't liquiefy from the heat.

  7. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Burning question

    Is there life on the Sun? We are just assuming that the coronal discharges are natural, but what if it's all deliberate? Any civilisation with that much nuclear power should be regarded as a serious threat. We should be spending £billions to prepare a defence. Give me the money and I promise to ensure that we will be safe from attack by Sun based creatures for the next 20 years.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      coronal discharges

      Unless you're drinking a lot of Mexican beer you may want to have that looked at by your doctor.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Burning question

      You should have a chat with Mr Burns. He has a patent on giant sun shades.

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Burning question

      1. There isn't an awful lot of any elements other than hydrogen and helium (in concentration terms) and feck all water or any alternative liquid solute so evolving a life form would not be likely.

      2. They would be kind of a cross between birds and fish (no firm surfaces) and LOTS of winds so any life forms would have a hard time building and maintaining anything in that maelstrom.

      3. Put the Ian Banks scifi books down and step back into reality.

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Burning question

        Boo!

  8. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Ant

    The hardest part of the project was positioning the ant right in the middle of the telescope's focus point with m.i.c.r.o.s.c.o.p.i.c precision.

  9. Celeste Reinard

    Here comes the sun...

    ... And I say, it just looks like those 8mm pictures I shot from my frying pan frying patate frites some 30 years ago. ... Being one's true artist, properly potted up, I called it 'art', now the upload is removed from my FB-page, it being fake-news - it's a hoax. (It's a frying pan, I keep repeating.)

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