Northern Ireland

Sun images: Andor Technology and Queen's University involved

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Media captionScientists can study features as small as 30km (18 miles) across in this sped-up movie

Queen's University Belfast and a Northern Ireland-based business have contributed to capturing new images of the Sun.

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

Andor Technology and the university led the development of a camera that was used in the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope.

Experts have said it will enable a new era of solar science.

The images were taken with cameras developed and supplied to the project by a UK consortium led by Queen's University.

"The imaging produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope opens new horizons in solar physics," Prof Mihalis Mathioudakis said.

"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."

'Real buzz'

Activity on the Sun, known as space weather, can affect systems on Earth.

The telescope, which is located in Hawaii, will play a critical role in better understanding the Sun and provide important details for scientists.

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.

Belfast-based Andor Technology specialises in developing high-end, sensitive digital camera technology.

"We just launched this technology in autumn last year and it won't just be used for solar but we are seeing the first fruits of our labour with these first images," Dr Colin Coates told BBC News NI.

"There's a real buzz around the building and this project wasn't without its hurdles but it's been a long time coming and it's amazing for the team to see these images."