Stellar success for Queen's solar stars

December 22, 2010

Astrophysicists from Queen's University have captured an unprecedented close-up image of the Sun's fiery atmosphere - and, in so doing, have won a major new global award.

'The Solar Cauldron', photographed by Dr David Jess and Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis of the University's School of Mathematics and Physics, is the first winner of Andor Technology's Insight Award. The Queen's entry finished ahead of over 100 submissions from across the world in the areas of physical and life sciences.

The prize was launched by Andor Technology plc, a world leader in scientific imaging and spectroscopy solutions, to reward the best scientifically captivating and visually stunning image obtained using Andor equipment.

The Queen's image provides a unique view of magnetic field lines, as indicated by the dark straw-like structures present all over the field-of-view. Incredibly, these phenomena display supersonic motion, with velocities exceeding 30 kilometres a second.

It was captured using Andor equipment in the Queen's Rapid Oscillations in the Solar Atmosphere (ROSA) instrument, installed in the Dunn Solar Telescope in New Mexico, the prime US facility for ground-based solar observations.

Dr Andrew Dennis, Andor's Director of Product Management, said: "The scientific value and visual quality of this year's entries truly highlights the cutting edge work carried out by researchers using Andor Technology equipment."

The Insight Awards focus on recognising the cutting-edge research carried out by researchers using Andor Technology equipment in the fields of Physical, Life Sciences Imaging and Spectroscopy.

Professor Francis Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics and Principal Investigator for ROSA, said: "This award recognises all of the hard work by the Solar Physics Group at Queen's in delivering ROSA as a world-leading instrument. In particular, it recognises the major contributions to ROSA by Mihalis Mathioudakis and David Jess, without whom ROSA would simply not exist.

"Credit is also due to Andor Technology and their staff, who developed the cameras in ROSA. The quality of the instrument is shown by this award-winning image, which demonstrates the potential of ROSA as an exciting research facility for international solar research."
For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, on 028 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997,

Queen's University Belfast

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