Interesting Facts About the Sun

We all know the Sun is a hot ball of gas that stays visible throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset. But is that all you know about it? Well, here are some other interesting facts about the Sun that you may or may not know!

Earth and Solar system planets.

The Sun is orbited by nine major planets (in particular order): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (which was declared as not a planet anymore but it could be installed back to its planet status).

These charged particles, primarily composed of protons and electrons, flow out from the Sun at speeds as high as 280 miles (or 450 kilometers) per second through the solar system.

The temperature of the sun’s surface reaches up to 6,000 Kelvin (K). It could have been the hottest since it’s the surface itself, but the truth is that the more distant the region is, the hotter it will be. There’s an atmosphere above the surface of the sun called the chromosphere, whose temperature can reach up to 100,000 K. The sun’s most distant region, the corona, is the hottest — it has a temperature that can reach as high as 1 million K!

So far there are two spacecrafts keeping track of the Sun. The first one (and the most famous) is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) which was built by NASA and ESA in 1995, and the second is NASA’s STEREO spacecraft which was built in 2006.

The Sun

The Sun actually has layers, it’s not just a ball of fire. You already know a bit about the corona (the outermost layer), which is followed by a layer called the chromosphere.

The chromosphere is followed by the photosphere, a visible layer; its temperature can reach as high as 6,000 K. Underneath it is the convective zone, a turbulent layer through which energy is carried by convection. The hot plasma rises its temperature and cools down as it approaches the surface. Then it falls back and gets hot again as it rises. Below the convective zone is the radiative zone, where heat can only move by radiation. Then it is followed by the core, the innermost part where all of the energy comes away from the Sun and all energy the reaches the earth, come from. Fifteen times denser than water, the core’s temperature reaches a blazing 15 million degrees Celsius or 13.6 million degrees Kelvin.

The feared tag “the end of the world” will actually happen someday. Not now, but it will happen in billions of years. When you think that the Sun is not moving, you’re wrong. The truth is that the Sun is heating up, but slowly. Within those billion years the heat from the Sun will be so extreme that it will dry up all the liquid on the Earth and will leave the surface scorched, and everything will be inhospitable. We guess you’ve heard about the “red giant” phase? In the next seven billion years the sun will become a giant, flaming ball, and will continue to grow to the point that it “eats” all of the Earth, destroying it.

After attaining the “red giant” phase, the Sun collapses. It will retain its enormous mass, but will be now only the about the size of the Earth. This occurrence will transform the sun into a “white dwarf.”

It’s true that the sun is huge — about 1.3 million Earths could fit into it. But do you know that there is an even bigger star than the sun? The Yellow Hypergiant is 1,300 times the size of the Sun, and it is the biggest known yellow star.

Scientists believe that the sun was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, as the planets also were. So for now the sun is in its middle age. In the next 5 billion years it will turn into a red giant and will swallow up all the inner planets, including Earth.

After attaining the “red giant” phase, the Sun collapses and shrinks into a white dwarf.

red gian

74% of the Sun’s mass is composed of hydrogen, while 24% is helium and the remaining 2% is a combination of bit amounts of oxygen, iron, nickel, and all other elements.

Such stars like Betelguese are awfully big and bright, but we can’t see them because they’re too incredibly distant. The Sun is only relatively bright compared to other larger and brighter stars. Still, it’s quite bright for us and no wonder, because the Sun is the biggest and brightest star nearest to the  planet Earth.

The distance between the Sun and the Earth is 149.60 million kilometers (or 92.96 million miles)

The Sun is not just the part of the solar system, it is in fact practically the solar system! Actually, 99.8% of the solar system’s mass belongs to the sun. And most of the remaining 0.2% mass belongs to Jupiter. So the mass of the other planets, including the Earth, is just a teeny-weeny bit of a fraction of the solar system’s mass.

The temperature of the Sun core is 15 million degrees Celsius, or around 27 million degrees Farenheit or 13.6 million Kelvin.

Sun's rotation

Contrary to popular notion, the Sun doesn’t just sit there but it actually rotates. But unlike the way planets rotate, the Sun’s rotation is rather unstable because it’s made up of mostly gas (think of a basketball spinning on your finger). Different parts of the Sun will rotate at different speeds, with the equator having the fastest rotation in a period of 25 days. The rotation of the poles, on the other hand, can take 36 days.

To be a bit more exact, that’s about 1.3 million Earths to fill the Sun. When you think about it, the Earth is such a tiny speck when compared to the Sun.