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Hot plasma churns on the sun with newfound precision in the first images from the largest solar telescope in the world.

The National Science Foundation’s 4-meter-wide Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope — named after the late senator from Hawaii — is still under construction on Maui, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from pointing it at the sun to see if it’s working. These “first-light” images, released January 29, reveal features on the sun’s surface just 30 kilometers across, or about three times as small as anything yet seen.

“We have now seen the smallest details on the largest object in the solar system,” said Inouye telescope director Thomas Rimmele during a January 24 news teleconference.

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Category: Science