An astrophotographer has revealed what he claims is his ‘clearest ever photo of the sun’.
Andrew McCarthy layered 150,000 individual pictures of the sun to convey the intricate stunning detail of the solar system’s largest star.
The photographer, known as @cosmic-background on Instagram, defines the tiny craters and fiery ripples which emanate from the sun, as well as a building space flare.
All can be seen within the huge final 300 megapixel image – 30 times bigger than a standard 10 megapixel camera image.
In its most close-up view, swirls and feather-type patterns can be seen by the human eye, alongside mysterious dark sunspots.
The dark spots in the images are actually inverted by the photographic process and in reality are very bright high energy areas of the burning star.
The process is a difficult one and requires a specialist telescope with two filters, in order to prevent a fire, and the photographer going blind.
‘To create the extreme magnification I used a modified telescope.
‘Combined, those photos allowed me to see the sun in incredible detail.’ added Andrew, who lives in Arizona.
The sun is the star at the heart of the Solar System, a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, radiating energy.
It has a diameter of 1.39 million km, and is 330,000 times the mass of the Earth. Three quarters of the star is made of hydrogen, followed by helium, oxygen, carbon, neon and iron.
It is a G-type main sequence star and is sometimes called a yellow dwarf.
The Sun formed from the gravitational collapse of matter in a large molecular cloud that gathered in the centre. The rest flattened into an orbiting disc that formed everything else.