Fun facts about our one and only sun!

I wrote a post with fun facts about our moon not to long ago (actually only 2 days) and read a comment asking for fun facts about the sun. So, here I am, with some interesting things most people don’t know about when it comes to our one and only sun. Without further ado: let’s dive into it!

  1. Its brightness

The sun is pretty bright, which isn’t a surprise. Our sun is a relatively bright star, in comparison with other large and bright stars like Eta Carina and Betelgeuse. Though, those are pretty far away. Say you’d take the 50 closest stars within 17 light-years of the Earth, the sun would be the 4th brightest star in absolute terms.

2. It’s the Solar System

We live on the planet and think the sun is a member of the Solar System. Reality is that the mass of the sun accounts for 99,8% of the mass of the Solar System. Most of that final 0,2% comes from Jupiter. So, the mass of the Earth is only a fraction of a fraction of the mass of the Solar System.

3. It’s middle aged

Astronomers think the sun formed from the solar nebula about 4,59 billion years ago. It’s currently in the main sequence stage right now, slowly using up its hydrogen fuel. At some point (in about 5 billion years from now) the sun will enter the red giant phase, swelling up to consume the inner planets (including Earth). It’ll slough off its outer layers and shrink back to a relatively tiny white dwarf.

4. It’s mostly hydrogen and helium

74% of the sun’s mass comes from hydrogen, with 24% helium. The remaining 2% includes trace amounts of iron, nickel, oxygen and all the other elements we have in the Solar System.

5. Its layers

The sun has an internal structure. The visible surface we see is called the photosphere and heats up to a temperature of about 6000 degrees Kelvin. Beneath that, is the convective zone, where heat moves slowly from the inner sun to the surface and cooled materials falls back down in columns. This part starts at 70% of the sun’s radius. Beneath the convection zone is the radiative zone. Here, heat can only travel through radiation. The core of the sun extends from the center of the sun to a distance of 0,2 solar radii. Temperature there, reaches about 13,6 million degrees Kelvin.

Sun Setting over the Mountains

6. It’s huge, but tiny

With a diameter of 109 times the size of Earth, the sun makes a really big sphere. You could fit 1,3 million Earths inside the sun. Or, you could flatten out 11,990 Earths to cover its surface. It’s however not the biggest star. The biggest one that we know of, would almost reach Saturn if it were placed inside the Solar System.

7. Different parts rotate at different speeds

Unlike the planets, the sun is a big sphere of hydrogen gas. Thanks to this, different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds. You can see how fast the surface is rotating by tracking the movement of sunspots across the surface. Regions at the equator take 25 days to complete one rotation, while features at the poles can take 36 days. The inside of the sun, seems to take about 27 days.

8. Hotness of outer atmosphere

The surface of the sun reaches temperatures of 6000 Kelvin. Above the surface of the sun is a region of the atmosphere called the chromosphere, where temperatures can reach 100,000 Kelvin. There’s an even more distant region called the corona, which extends to a volume even larger than the sun itself. Temperatures in the corona can reach 1 million Kelvin.

9. It’ll kill all life on Earth

The sun is slowly heating up. It’s becoming 10% more luminous every billion years. In fact, within just a billion years, the heat will be so intense that liquid water won’t exist on the Earth’s surface. Life as we know will be gone forever. Bacteria might still live on underground, but the surface of the planet will be scorched and uninhabited. It’ll take another 7 billion years for the sun to reach its red giant phase before it actually expands to the point where it engulfs Earth and destroys it.

10. Spacecrafts observe

The most famous spacecraft sent to observe the sun is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, built by NASA and ESA. It launched in December 1995. SOHO has been observing the sun since then and sent back countless images. A more recent mission is NASA’s STEREO spacecraft, which were actually twins, launched in October 2006. It was designed to watch the same activity on the sun from two different vantage points so it could give a 3D perspective of the sun’s activity and allow astronomers to predict space weather.


Love, Deem ❤

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Image source: Pexels


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