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Sun - The center of our solar system
Sun Image Courtesy
NASA/JPL-Caltech
This star that is the center of our solar system has fueled the imaginations of men since the beginning of time, and many cultures have based calendars, charts, and religions off of its apparent movement across our sky. Man has studied it and used that knowledge to improve what we know about life, physics, the solar system, and the universe. Without its energy we would not exist, and its light gives warmth and life to all that is living on Earth.

The Sun has six layers: the core, radiative zone, convective zone, photosphere, chromosphere, and the corona.

The core is the center of the thermonuclear reaction that powers the sun, and is responsible for maintaining its constantly burning state. Most of the light, heat and radiation we receive here on earth comes from the core, and the outer layers are not bright enough to be seen without filters or special lenses. It takes many thousands of years for light to escape the core and make its way through the outer layers of the sun, but it only takes about eight minutes to cross the distance from the Sun to the Earth. The temperature of the core is 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit).

The radiative zone traps light and heat from the core for about 170,000 years before letting it escape to the convective zone, the bubbling, revolving plasma soup where there is a temperature drop of about 2 million degrees. After leaving the convective zone, light and heat radiate to the photosphere or the visible surface of the sun, and the temperature drops down to about 5,500 degrees Celsius (10,000 degrees Fahrenheit). An interesting fact about the darker regions of the photosphere, commonly known as Sunspots, is that they are much colder than the surrounding regions and they are caused by the magnetic fields of the sun literally pushing the hot particles apart in regions as large or larger than the entire Earth, but the nature of these magnetic fields and their constantly changing state is not truly known.

The chromosphere is, in a sense, the red ring of fire surrounding the visible surface of the sun, and the corona is a bright halo of light that can only be seen when the brighter sub-layers are blocked by lenses, or during solar eclipses. Temperatures in the corona region reach unexplained temperatures of 2 million degrees Celsius whereas the surface of the sun is 5,500 degrees Celsius (10,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists believe this has something to do with super heated particles following the magnetic field of the sun, but testing these theories is impossible using current technology.

Other interesting articles about the sun:

  • Sunspots

    Discuss the Sun in our forums: The Sun

     

    Sun Statistics Table:
      Things to keep in mind:
    • 1 A.U. is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, or 93 million miles ( 149.6 million km )
    • Planets have elliptical orbits, and distances given are the average distance from the sun.
    • Measurements given in earth terms. If read "days" or "years," earth days and earth years are implied
    Date of Discovery Known by the Ancients
    Average Distance from the Sun 0 A.U.
    Equatorial Radius 695,500 km
    Equatorial Circumference 4,379,000 km
    2,715,000 miles
    Density 1.409 g/cm3
    Surface Area 6,087,799,000,000 km2
    2,347,000,000,000 mi2
    Gravity 274.0 m/s2
    899.0 ft/s2
    Rotation Period (Length of Day) 25.38 days
    609.12 hours
    Orbit Period (Length of Year) no orbit known
    Orbital Velocity (avg) ...
    Orbital Circumference ...
    Min/Max Surface Temperature 5,500 C
    10,000 F
    5777 K
     

    Article written by IceCreamTruck and was compiled after extensive reading and study. This article is formatted to include information that isn't obvious from looking at most facts and figures sheets. Exact figures about the planet courtesy of JPL NASA and have been shortened to include only the most useful information. Please visit NASA's website for further detailed information on this planet NASA Venus Pages

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