Fact About The Sun - The Heart Of Our Solar System

The sun in visible light - facts about the sun
The sun (in visible light)

Sun is a massive nuclear furnace at the centre of our solar system with a radius of 695,700 km. It is over 4.5 billion years old and is responsible for the Earth’s climate, weather and life. The sun was formed from the cloud of dust and gas called a solar nebula. Most of the matter of dust cloud collapsed in the centre. The rest become the planets, moons and asteroids of our Solar system. The hottest part of the sun is its core where it fuses hydrogen atom to produce energy. Energy from the sun's core takes between 10,000 to 170,000 years to reach us.

Facts About The Sun

Star Profile

TypeYellow-dwarf (G2V)
Distance Galactic Centre 25,000 - 28,000 km
Equatorial Radius695,700 km
Age4.6 billion years
Volume1.41 × 1018 km3
Mass1.9885 × 1030 kg
Surface area6.09 × 1012  km2
Gravity274 m/s2
Surface Temperature5505 ℃ or 9941 °F
rotation period at equater
25.05 Earth days
Revolution period
(around Galactic Centre)
225 - 220 million years
Astronomical symbol

Quick Sun Facts

  1. The Sun was born about 4.5 billion years ago and since then has supplied enough energy for the existence of the solar system and life.
  2. 74.9 % of the sun is hydrogen and 23.8% helium. The remaining 1.5% is mainly heavier element - iron, nickel and oxygen.
  3. The is getting hotter, becoming 10% luminous around every billion years. In a billion years, there will be no liquid water on earth.
  4. Like our earth, the sun also rotates on its axis but in opposite direction earth and different parts of the sun rotates at a different speed.
  5. Some regions in the equator take 25 days to complete a rotation, and some take 27 days.
  6. The poles take up to 36 days to rotate.
  7. Theoretically, Sun could fit all eight planets inside, nearly 600 times.
  8. 100,000,000,000 tons of dynamite would have to detonate every single second to match the energy that the sun produces.
  9. The sun is nearly a perfect sphere; the difference between in its poler diameter and equatorial diameter is only 10 km (6.2 miles).
  10. Distance between earth and sun changes throughout the year.
  11. Difference between Earth's closest and farthest point from the sun is 5 million kilometres or 3.1 million miles.
  12. Interaction between our atmosphere with the solar wind of sun causes aurora australis aurora borealis.
  13. When viewed from Mars, the sun looks blue. The colour of the sun depends on the planet's atmosphere.

Detailed Facts About Sun

  • The sun's name is not placed on a god

Helios - The Roman god of Sun
Helios - The Roman god of Sun

Unlike most of the planets in our solar system, the Sun’s name is not derived from some Roman God. The word Sun is believed to stem from the Old English spelling of Sunne. It wasn’t always known as the Sun, though. Ancient Greece dubbed the flaming orb as Helios, the son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia.

In Ancient Rome, the Sun was known as Sol, Latin for Sun. It was attributed to the deities Sol and the less popular Sol Indiges. For Ancient Egyptians, the Sun took form as the God Ra. Who later merged with Horus to create Ra-Horakhty, or the god of the sky, Earth, and the underworld.
  • Sun along with us is moving with thousands of kilometres per hour

Location of Sun in Milky Way Galaxy
Location of Sun in Milky Way galaxy

A lot of people think of the Sun as a stationary object, but it is not. It is like a super giant arrow that has been fired through space. Our Sun, along with us and the entire solar system, orbits around the center of the Milky Way galaxy or Galactic Center. The average velocity of the solar system is 156 mi/s or 251 km/s. It takes us about 220 - 250 million years to make one complete orbit the Milky Way; this is called a Galactic year.

Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. It is believed that it consists of a central bulge, four major arms and several shorter arm segments. The Sun and the rest of our solar system are located near the Orion Arm between two major arms Perseus and Sagittarius. The diameter of the Milky Way is guessed to be about 100,000 lightyears. The Sun is located about 27,000 light-years from the galactic center.
  • Our sun is classified as a yellow star

Classification of Sun
Classification of Sun

Everything has a classification like Jupiter as a Gas Giant, and Mercury as an Inferior Planet. Stars are no different. A star can be categorised based on its spectral type. When it comes to the Sun, you’re looking at a full spectral class of G2V also know as yellow-dwarf. The G designates it as a main-sequence dwarf star. These stars convert hydrogen to helium via nuclear fusion at its core.

When viewed from the Earth's surface, they appear yellow. But when you look at them in the space, you will realise that they are more white than yellow. G-type stars are known to fuse hydrogen for roughly 10 billion years. At the end of which it will expand to a red giant. If anyone is left on Earth at the time that happens, they will be entirely engulfed by the inferno.
  • The sun burns millions of tons of hydrogen to produce energy

Structure of the sun
Structure of the sun
© Wikimedia

At the core of the Sun, the pressure is crushing about 260 billion times the atmospheric pressure on earth and temperature reaches up to 15 million degrees Celsius. Under those conditions, the hydrogen atoms fuse together to form the heavier element helium. Along the way, some of the nuclear energy stored in those atoms is released. That amount of energy is described by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, which states that mass can be converted into energy, and vice-versa.

Atoms are much small, though, so each helium atom made in the Sun’s core generates only a tiny bit of energy. But a lot of helium atoms made a lot of energy. Every second the Sun converts 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium and also converts 4 million tons of matter into energy. It’s equivalent to detonating 400 billion one-megaton nuclear bombs every single second.
  • Light from the Sun's core takes hundreds of thousands of years to reach us

Distance of earth from sun
Distance of earth from sun

At a speed of 186,287 miles or 299,792 kilometres per second, you could say that light travels pretty fast. What does that mean for the relationship between Earth and the Sun, or the Sun and any other planet? The light emitted from the Sun's surface takes approximately 8.3 minutes to reach earth. But there’s a peculiar fact about the light we’re getting after those 8.3 minutes.

The light is produced within the Sun’s core, starting as gamma rays, collide with matters until it reaches the surface. It’s estimated to be anywhere from 200,000 to 50 million years old by the time light reaches Earth. There’s no direct measurement to how long that process takes. But is known to be far more than a mere 8.3 minutes.
  • Millions of earth could fit inside the sun

Sun compared to other planets
Sun compared to other planets
© Wikimedia

It’s not just any glowing orb in the sky – it’s a massive glowing orb in the sky! Compared to our little slice of life, the Sun’s diameter is 856,658 miles or 1,378,657 kilometres larger than that of Earth's. That’s no small potatoes. In fact, the Sun’s volume is so large that approximately 1.3 million Earth's could fit inside of it.

When it comes to the mass of the entire solar system, the Sun makes up a whopping 99.8% of it, leaving a measly .2% for the rest of the formations to fill in. Despite the gigantic size, it looks like the same size as the moon from earth. This massive size difference is because the sun is 400 times larger than the satellite, but it is also 400 times farther from us.
  • There is a huge temperature difference between the sun's surface and its atmosphere

The Sun's corona is visible during a total solar eclipse
The Sun's corona is visible during a total solar eclipse
© Wikimedia

The surface of the Sun is what some would call “unbearably hot”, with an average temperature reaching as high as 5,504° C or 9,949° F. Move to the interior of this big glowing orb, and you’ll be faced with an average temperature of 15 million° C 27 million° F. That is why even from that distance its heat can be felt on your skin when you stand outside.

Usually when you get farther from the heat source its get colder, but not on the sun. Astonishingly, its uppermost layer of the atmosphere, known as the corona, is thousands time hotter compared to its surface. The temperature here reaches from 1 million degrees C (1.7 million degrees F) to 10 million degrees C (17 million degrees F). Astronomers are still unsure why the corona is hotter than its surface. NASA send a spacecraft called Parker Solar Probe to resolve this mystery.
  • The sun is at its middle age

Life cycle of sun
Life cycle of sun

With Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, you would expect the glowing life force in space would probably be older, right? Well, the scientists actually theorise that the Sun is about the same period as Earth along with all of the other eight planets out there.

Since our earth, planets and all the Moons and space rocks formed at the same time. So scientists use a technique called as Rubidium Dating to determine the age of meteorites. The space rock tells us the sun is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Based on the 10-billion-year lifespan we mentioned in its classification, the sun should have another 5.5 billion years left.
  • We are travelling on one of the satellites of the sun

Life cycle of sun

A satellite is described as an object that orbits around another object. You likely know our Moon to be a satellite of Earth and Phobos to be a satellite of Mars, but have you considered the satellites of the Sun? It may never have crossed your mind, but you are travelling on one of the Sun’s many moons!

Including Earth, the Sun is also orbited by our neighbouring planets; Pluto included the dwarf planet Ceres and Halley’s Comet. Accompanying this group is also a considerable amount of asteroids. An estimated 750,000 to be exact, orbiting around the Sun in a band found between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
  • There are times when the sun is more active than usual

A solar flare comperd to earth
A solar flare comperd to earth

Many things have their own magnetic field, our planet included; but few are as dominant and instrumental as the magnetism of the Sun. Aside from creating beautiful solar flares for space programs to admire from afar, the Sun’s magnetic field is believed to affect weather across the solar system directly. Here on Earth, there has been a recorded correlation between the surface pressure of the atmosphere and changes within the Sun’s magnetic fields.

Every 11 years it has been estimated that sunspots, or solar flares, occur. During this event, a sudden flash of brightness can be observed from earth. It is like 160 billion megatons of TNT is expelled into space, carryings clouds of electrons, atoms and ions. These clouds usually reach our planet in the matter of a day or two. Solar flares can cause significant interruptions with technology and implement a geomagnetic storm which affects the magnetosphere and can knock out satellites.
  • After 4.5 billion years, Sun will eventually shrink to a size of the earth

Current Sun compared to its size during its Red Giant phase
Current Sun compared to its size during its Red Giant phase
© Wikimedia

All good things must come to an end. As we’ve touched, the lifespan of the Sun is no different, and it, too, will eventually die; and with it, all life on Earth will cease. During its lifetime, the Sun burns through hydrogen, fusing it into helium. Finally, all of the hydrogens will dissipate, leaving nothing but helium to try and power the sun, which it is unable to do.

The helium-based core will eventually start collapsing on itself, creating more pressure to heat and increase the size of the Sun until it would become a Red Giant. When the process is complete, astronomers believe that the surface layers of the Sun will reach out over 170 million kilometres or 108 million miles, absorbing Mercury, Venus, and our pleasant slice of life for good. After that, it shrinks down to a white dwarf, and the core begins to shine brighter than ever.

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