Click on the images for links to further information.

If we could fly low over the Sun, this might be what we'd see: a complex group of sunspots, bright flares releasing vast amounts of energy, filaments of plasma rising along magnetic lines of force.

This loop of hot gas is one of the largest ever seen, stretching 250,000 miles out into space.

It takes an eclipse or special telescopes to see the corona the wispy outer atmosphere of the Sun, the source of the solar wind which reaches out to touch us here on Earth.

Researchers use careful measurements of how the Sun's plasma rises and falls to detect up to a million different sound waves echoing through its gases. Sunspots rise and fall in frequency over an 11-year cycle, signalling peaks and lows in solar activity.

We expect the next climax in 2000-2001, when the largst and most sophisticated set of spacecraft and ground observatories ever will be waiting to find out more about...