The first light image from the Solar ultraviolet imaging telescope (SUIT) onboard India’s first dedicated space observatory Aditya –L1 brought cheers from the members of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Aditya –L1 to study the Sun on 2nd September 2023.
Dr Sreekumar, Director, Manipal Centre for Natural Sciences (MCNS), MAHE, and the former director of Space Science Program Office, ISRO, explains “Aditya-L1 will be positioned in a unique location, Lagrange point 1, where the gravitational attraction by Sun and Earth on the spacecraft, is nearly balanced, providing a low-maintenance orbit. It facilitates almost continuous visibility of the Sun.”
One of the prime onboard telescopes SUIT was developed jointly across multiple institutions, with the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune as the PI institute and major contributions from ISRO and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), along with other institutes.
Dr. Sreejith Padinhatteeri, Assistant Professor, MCNS, MAHE, who is also the Project Scientist and Operational Manager of SUIT, elaborated SUIT is unique, as globally it is for the first time, we observe the full Sun in the near ultraviolet spectral range of 200nm – 400 nm. The magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) processes in the solar plasma create features on the Sun like Sunspots, Plages, Filaments, etc. They also cause the sudden release of huge amounts of energy (equal to millions of atomic bombs going off together), known as Solar Flares, and the eruption of Plasma, called Coronal Mass Ejections. SUIT will study these processes and in near ultraviolet regime to explore it’s underlying physics. We know that ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun has a direct impact on Earth’s atmosphere, especially the upper stratosphere. SUIT will investigate how much ultraviolet radiations are emitted from the Sun regularly and during magnetic activities.”
Vice Chancellor of MAHE, Lt. Gen. (Dr.) M. D. Venkatesh, VSM (Retd) expressed his happiness and said “It is a proud moment for all of us at MAHE, we will continue to support and contribute to such missions of national importance.”
Two first light images from SUIT onboard Aditya-L1. The left image is taken in a spectral bandwidth peak transmission at 388nm and 1 nm bandwidth. The right image is taken in Mg II h (280.3 nm with 0.4 nm bandwidth). The dark spots seen are known as Sunspots, where the magnetic field strength is extremely high to the quiet Sun region. The region around the n around the sunspot emits lots of UV radiations especially in certain spectral bands like MgII h (as seen in the right-side image), and they are called Plages. More such images can be seen at ISRO page https://www.isro.gov.in/