Queen's University team helping project zoom in on Sun
Northern Ireland scientists are involved in a project that will see a new European telescope investigate the Sun in "unprecedented" detail.
Based in the Canary Islands, the telescope will be able to identify structures so small it is comparable to finding a pound coin from a distance of 100km.
The first observations are planned for 2027, and Queen's University is one of the main organisations behind the project in the UK.
The university's Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis said: "Currently we know very little about the Sun.
"It gives us light and energy, which are indispensable for life on Earth.
"It is a very dynamic and active system, with changes that could potentially have dramatic consequences for our civilisation.
"However, we don't know the processes that operate in the Sun's atmosphere.
"We are unable to predict them and therefore we are unable to forecast the impact that they will have on Earth."
He said the European Solar Telescope could be the answer to solving many of these mysteries.
The ground-breaking project involves 17 European countries.
During a series of meetings at Queen's, 25 leading researchers discussed the final design and construction of the telescope.