A team of astronomers from Pune-based TIFR-National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) has managed to capture a 1,000 times better radio image of the Sun, which they state could give more insights in understanding the Sun’s influence on the space weather.
Additionally, they have said that solar events or flares, heading towards Earth, which can cripple the communication systems on Earth, could be observed and tracked more clearly.
Led by Divya Oberoi, the team used radio telescope Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) located in Australia to capture about a million images per hour, which was possible using special algorithm or software package called ‘Automated Imaging ROutine for Compact Arrays for the Radio Sun’ (AIRCARS).
“ The range of image contrast that was captured has improved significantly and stands 1,000 times better than what could be observed till date. We could see the darkest to the brightest regions of solar flares and this is important in understanding the space weather,” said Atul Mohan, one of the PhD students from the team.
Solar flares or similar sun-related events are known to cause widespread outages to Earth’s communication systems, navigation and satellite operations, power supply and can cripple life beyond immediate repair.
“But, due to the availability of such an advanced telescope, coupled with the software, we can now track plasma waves or similar events approaching earth,” explained Mohan.
This advancement has also helped the community to now capture large-scale solar events, of which only a small portion was captured and studied until now. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, University of Sydney and Curtin University, Australia, worked with the Indian team for this research.