Picture of the Month

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

 

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

The solar atmosphere shows a wide variety of wave phenomena. Among them are the bouyancy-driven internal gravity waves (IGWs) - a phenomenon common in the terrestrial atmosphere and oceans. We use realistic numerical simulations to study how these waves emanate from the solar surface and propagate through an unmagnetized or a magnetized atmosphere.

Read more

The energy from the solar interior is transported by convection to the solar surface. When observing the lowest layer of the solar atmosphere with a high-resolution solar telescope the granular structure of the hot up-flowing gas cells becomes recognizable. Recently, scientists from the Kiepenheuer Institut for Solar Physics have performed unprecedented spectroscopic observations with the Vacuum Tower Telescope (VTT) on Tenerife to systematically investigate the large-scale convective motion in the photosphere. The measurement of accurate absolute velocities was enabled by the scientific instrument LARS (Laser Absolute Reference Spectrograph) which employs a state-of-the-art Laser Frequency Comb as a calibration ruler for the solar spectrum.

Read more

The solar 11-year cycle affects many of the observable values of the Sun. In the course of the solar cycle, the oscillation frequencies of the Sun and the amplitudes of these oscillations change marginally but measurably. Solar oscillations are standing sound waves inside the Sun. Similarly to sound waves here on Earth, the pressure within the medium is key to the way in these waves travel. This is why these oscillations are also referred to as p modes (p for pressure). Changes in the p-mode characteristics throughout the solar cycle are due to the varying strength of the magnetic field over time at different depths inside the Sun.

Read more

The solar telescope GREGOR enables scientists to measure magnetic fields and flows on the Sun with unprecedented accuracy. The first results are now available.

At times of strong magnetic activity, the Sun offers spectacular sights of violent eruptions, evolving sunspots and strong magnetic fields. But there are also times at which it seems as though nothing is happening on the Sun surface with its almost regular pattern of grains referred to as granules. These ‘quiet’ regions also contain magnetic fields but they are very weak and therefore difficult to measure. Scientists at Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics work with the GREGOR solar telescope, inaugurated in 2012, to analyse sunspots and their finely chased structure with an accuracy never seen before.

This and other first GREGOR results will be presented in nine articles of a special edition of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Read more

0.000 000 000 5 metre (= 0.5 nanometres = 0.5 nm), this tiny distance is how the two plates made of quartz glass fit together. Over an extension of 25 cm in diameter, the distance between the two plates varies by less than the distance of two neighbouring atoms in a silicon crystal. These two glass plates make up the Fabry-Perot interferometer of the VTF.

Read more

The VTF (Visbile Tuneable Filter) is a two-dimensional high-resolution spectropolarimeter and is currently developed at the Kiepenheuer Institute. As one of the state-of-the-art scientific instruments at the future 4-m-class telescope DKIST on Hawaii it will play a major role in the next decade of solar observations.

The setup of the VTF consists of several Fabry-Pérot interferometers (FPI), a wavelength-dependend narrow pre-filter and a polarization modulator. Due to the requested accuracy of the physical measurements, an investigation of the instrumental impacts on the physical data acquisition was required in advance. Based on the inquired simulations, the requirements for manufacturing were inferred and strategies for the data calibration developed.

Read more