First science data with the 1.5 m GREGOR Telescope

As of recently, the new German 1.5 m GREGOR telescope at the Observatorio del Teide (Tenerife) is fully operational. The first scientific data was taken in May of this year with hitherto unparalleled precision.

Results of the scientific analysis (clockwise from upper left): plasma temperature, magnetic field strength, azimuth and inclination of the magnetic field.

One of the post-focus instruments, the GRegor Infrared Spectrograph (GRIS), records the solar spectrum in the infrared range from 1 µm to 2 µm. With the 1.5 m aperture of the primary mirror of GREGOR, GRIS is able to resolve structures on the solar surface as small as 250 km in the infrared.

Spectral lines in the infrared provide information of the atmospheric conditions of a thin layer in the deepest part of the solar atmosphere, where magneto-convective processes are most prominent. This allows scientists to better understand the energy transported by the granular cells as well as the magnetic properties of sunspots, umbral dots and the magnetoconvective processes occurring in the penumbra and in light bridges.

The picture on the right demonstrates the outstanding capabilities of GREGOR. It shows first results of the scientific analysis of a sunspot observation taken in May 2014.

The GREGOR telescope was built by a German consortium under the leadership of the Kiepenheuer-Insitut für Sonnenphysik in Freiburg with the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik in Potsdam, the Institut für Astrophysik in Göttingen, and the Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung in Göttingen as partners. The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic are also contributors.