The sun as we’ve never seen it before – clearest and most detailed images of the Sun revealed.

The clearest and most detailed images of the Sun have been captured by the largest telescope in the world.

Just-released first images and videos from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope reveal unprecedented detail of the Sun’s surface, with experts saying it will enable a new era of solar science and a leap forward in understanding the Sun and its impacts on our planet.

The new images from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope 4-meter solar telescope, which sits near the summit of Haleakalā in Hawaiʻi, show a close-up view of the Sun’s surface including a pattern of turbulent “boiling” plasma that covers the entire Sun. The images also show cell-like structures – each about the size of Texas – which are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from inside the Sun to its surface.

They were taken with cameras developed and supplied to the project by a UK consortium which is led by Queen’s University Belfast, and involves seven other UK institutes and industry including Andor Technology, Armagh Observatory, University of Glasgow, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Northumbria University, University of Sheffield, St. Andrews University and University of Warwick. Funding has been provided by UK Research and Innovation’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis from Queen’s University Belfast, who led the UK consortium, said: “The imaging produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope opens new horizons in solar physics. Its imaging capability allows us to study the physical processes at work in the Sun’s atmosphere at unprecedented levels of detail. We worked hard over the past few years with Belfast-based Andor Technology to develop the cameras that equip the Inouye Solar Telescope and it is highly rewarding to now see this fascinating imaging.”

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