The European Space Agency (ESA) has unveiled the closest-ever pictures of the sun, taken from the Solar Explorer space probe - a joint mission with US space agency NASA.
A picture taken from 77 million kilometres, about halfway between the sun and the Earth, showed swirling shapes on the corona, the outer part of the sun's atmosphere.
"We are seeing a small part of the solar disc here, of the corona, which we essentially call the quiet corona, quiet meaning that nothing is supposed to happen here," scientist David Berghmans of the Royal Observatory of Belgium said.
"But when you look at it at high resolution it's amazing in the smaller details how much stuff is going on there," Berghmans said during an online presentation of the images.
There was "so much new small phenomena going on on the smaller scale" that ESA scientists had to invent new names for what they were seeing, such as "campfires" and "ghosts," Berghmans said.
"Many of those things have been seen before at bigger scales but never at this small scale in the quiet corona," he added.
Daniel Mueller, an ESA project scientist working on the probe, said it was too early for scientific conclusions, as these early images were "merely byproducts of technical tests" as the probe is configured for its fully operational scientific phase.
"Our conjecture is that these campfires and ghosts are related to changes in the sun's magnetic field," he said.
The orbiter is controlled by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in the German city of Darmstadt.
It was developed by the ESA and NASA and is expected to reach just 42 million kilometres from the sun.
Mueller said that by 2025 the orbiter should start reaching an angle closer to the sun's poles.
"The poles are terra incognita," unknown territory like the North and South Poles of the Earth 150 years ago, Sami Solanki of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research said.
Solanki said there would be "a lot of new things to learn there," with scientists hoping to get data that will help them work out how the sun's magnetic field is produced.
It should also provide "a lot of new insight" into the reasons for the sun's 11-year magnetic activity cycle, Mueller said.