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MediaService Digital Industries Newsroom

Focusing closely on the sun – Heat protection for the world’s largest solar telescope using Siemens software

Magnetic fields control the temperature of the corona and also influence the earth. (Copyright: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

Unlike space telescopes, which are used at night-time, the DKIST will spend its working life pointing directly at the sun. This means that the solar telescope is exposed to large quantities of heat energy. A “heat stop” is therefore an integral component of this type of telescope. It is located at the prime focus and prevents large amounts of undesired sunlight from reaching the subsequent optics. The heat stop is cooled using an internal system of porous metal heat exchangers, which dissipate around 1700 watts at peak operating load. Another challenge for the designers was avoiding a phenomenon known as “self-induced seeing”. In this phenomenon, thermal influences and wind degrade the image quality, similar to the effect of high temperatures in the desert where the horizon appears to “flicker”. To prevent this, engineers had to ensure that the heat stop did not have a thermal influence on the optics. The temperature of the “heat stop” must therefore never be more than ten degrees Celsius higher than the ambient air. 


Well cooled 
When designing the heat stop, the experts at Aavid Thermacore had to take into account multiphase flow within the metal heat exchangers and ensure that, for example, asymmetrical thermal load would not result in “hot spots”, which in turn could cause the “self-induced seeing” phenomenon. By using Siemens Star-CCM+ software, Thermacore engineers were able to visualize flow patterns within the enclosure and adapt the design accordingly. They also succeeded in designing the heat stop so that its temperature is not more than ten degrees Celsius above ambient temperature. 

Better understanding of the sun 
With this ultra-modern cooling system, the scientists are now able to use the DKIST to its full capacity. The 75-millimetre thick primary mirror has a diameter of 4.24 metres and provides extremely sharp images of the solar surface. One of the research aims is to learn more about the magnetic fields of the sun, which control the temperature of the corona and the solar wind. As a result, the scientists hope to improve their predictions on the way in which this space weather influences the earth.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) was recently commissioned on the Pacific island of Maui.

The 75-millimetre thick primary mirror of the DKIST has a diameter of 4.24 metres and provides extremely sharp images of the solar surface.

A major challenge in the design of the DKIST was in minimizing the thermal energy absorbed by the focus on the sun.

For a special heat absorption system, the thermal management experts at Aavid Thermacore relied on solutions from the Siemens Digital Industries Software portfolio.

Another challenge for the designers was avoiding a phenomenon known as “self-induced seeing”, where thermal influences degrade the image quality.

Located at the prime focus, the heat stop uses an internal cooling system of porous metal heat exchangers to prevent large amounts of undesired sunlight from reaching the subsequent optics of the DKIST.

Contact

Ursula Lang

Digital Industries

Gleiwitzer Str. 555
90475 Nuremberg
Germany

+49 (152) 22915052