Picture of the Month

The Sun has a variable magnetic field. The most peculiar manifestation of this variability is the 11-year sunspot cycle. Besides the number of sunspots, the frequencies of the seismic waves that propagate through the solar interior are changing.

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The magnetic topology in umbral dots has been studied by means of the inversion

of spectropolarimetric data recorded with the Hinode satellite and the GREGOR

solar telescope. The SP instrument attached to the 0.5-meter SOT telescope

on-board the Hinode satellite records spectropolarimetric data of two Fe I

lines at 630 nm, which are formed about 60-80 km higher than the three Fe I

lines at 1565 nm observed with the GRIS instrument attached to the 1.5-meter

ground solar telescope GREGOR.

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The thermal structure of the penumbra below its visible surface has important implications for our present understanding of sunspots and their penumbrae: which magneto-convective mode is transporting energy, and how magneto-acoustic wave modes are converted in sunspot seismology.

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With the waning 24th sunspot cycle, only few active regions and sunspots appear on the solar surface. Magnetic fields which currently reach the solar surface only produce small pores, which prevail for a few days before they disappear. A region of emerging flux with a few pores was observed on May 24, 2017, with the broad band imager (BBI) at the 1.5m GREGOR solar telescope on Tenerife. The BBI observes the solar surface with two cameras simultaneously, with highest spatial and time resolution, in several regions of the solar spectrum.

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Sunspots are the longest-known manifestation of solar activity, and their magnetic nature has been known for more than a century. Despite this, the boundary between umbrae and penumbrae, the two fundamental sunspot regions, has hitherto been solely defined by an intensity threshold.

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In early November 2017, the main frame for the Visible Tunable Filter (VTF) was installed at the large laboratory in the Jacob-Burckhardt-Straße 1 (JB1). All optical components of the VTF will be mounted to this complex structure. The steel frame extends over two floors, has an overall height of 5 meters and weighs about 2 tons. After the completion of the VTF in Freiburg, the instrument will be dismounted, packed up, and shipped to the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

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Movies of solar granulation frequently show bright granules that expand rapidly and reach sizes larger than an average granule. 

 

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Over the coming months, the world’s largest Fabry-Pérot interferometer (FPI) will be assembled and tested at the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics. Among its main components are two high-purity quartz glass disks, each coated on one side with a highly reflective layer. The coated surface has a diameter of 28 cm and its mean evenness does not exceed the incredible value of 0.000 000 001 m. By way of comparison, if lake Titisee in the Black Forest had this evenness, this would imply that the height of its waves remains below 5 micrometers (1/10 of a hair). On a smaller scale, the roughness of the coated surface is even 10 times better, reaching the size of individual atoms.

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A few weeks ago, KIS delivered the flight unit of the image stabilization unit for the Photospheric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) of the Solar Orbiter Mission. This was an important milestone for the project, and at the same time it was the first space-qualified instrument that had been developed, built and tested at KIS. In the meantime, and after detailed tests and calibration measurements, PHI was delivered to ESA for integration to the spacecraft.

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In order to compensate image blurring caused by turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, present ground-based solar telescopes are equipped with a technology called Adaptive Optics (AO): It uses a single deformable mirror which can change its shape very rapidly to compensate the image blurring in realtime.

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