The sun is the source of all life on earth. In all cultures of the world, people worship sun in one form or another. Most religions began with the worship of the sun because people recognized the life giving power of the sun. But the life that the sun has given us will be one day taken back by it. Our sun is just one of the billions of stars in the universe and like all other stars one day it will die too. We all know a little bit about the sun but there are certain facts you might not be familiar with.
10. The sun is the solar system:
The sun contains 99.86% of the mass of our solar system. It is by far the largest object in the solar system and it will be fare to say that basically the sun is the solar system. The sun is 330,000 times the size of the earth while its surface area is 11,990 times that of the earth’s. 1,300,000 earths could be made to fit inside the sun. It consists mostly of hydrogen and helium.
9. The sun is more than just a ball of fire:
We think of the sun as a giant ball of fire but actually it is much more complex and has a structure, layers, distinct parts and even an atmosphere. There is a nuclear core that produces the energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium. Above the core are the radiation zone and the convective zone. There are sun spots on the surface of the sun and different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds.
8. The sun is expanding:
The sun is not unchanging and constant as some people might believe. It has been expanding every since it was born and slowly it will keep on expanding till it becomes the red giant. As the rate of hydrogen fusing into helium increases the outer layers of the sun are puffed up and cause the sun to expand and become brighter.
7. The sun is getting hotter:
Along with expansion the sun is also getting brighter and hotter. In about 1 billion years the sun will get so hot that all water on the surface of earth will evaporate. Life as we know it will die. Some bacteria may survive underground but all of the surface life will die as the surface become scorched and burned by the intense heat of the sun.
6. The sun is middle aged:
The sun is about halfway through its life cycle. It is around 4.5 billion years old right now and has about 5 to 6 billion more years left to live. It has already burned off half of its store of hydrogen. Once all the hydrogen is used up the sun will start fusing together helium to produce the higher elements. That will be the last days of the life of the sun.
5. The sun has an atmosphere:
Apart from having a complex structure and an interesting surface the sun also has an atmosphere. The atmosphere is made up of the photosphere, chromosphere and the corona. The surface of the sun has a temperature of about 6000 Kelvin but its atmosphere can get much hotter. The chromosphere has temperature of about 100,000 Kelvin and the corona can reach 1 million Kelvin.
4. The sun rotates and revolves:
Like the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, the sun also rotates and revolves. It rotates on its axis and the equatorial regions take 25 days to complete one rotation. The sun also revolves around the center of the galaxy. It takes the sun 225 to 250 million years to complete one revolution of the galactic center.
3. The sun will one day swallow the earth:
As the sun goes through its life cycle it will continue to expand and become hotter and brighter. One day it will expand so much that it will swallow the inner planets including Earth. You don’t need to worry though because we’ll all be dead long before that happens due to the rising temperatures on earth.
2. The sun causes a solar wind:
The sun has a magnetic field and it emits charged particles that travel through its magnetic field. This field is known as the heliosphere and engulfs the complete solar system within it. The charged particles travel at a speed of 450 km/s and form the solar wind. Scientists have been trying to use this solar wind for space travel using solar sails that can catch this wind.
1. Solar flares and Solar Stroms:
The surface of the sun is active and often a large amount of energy is released in the form of eruptions known as solar flares. Solar flares also cause a massive coronal mass ejection which releases charged particles, electrons and atoms through the corona of the sun into space. These particles form what is known as a solar storm. When solar storms hit the earth, it can cause failure of electronic equipment and other damage. The earth’s magnetic field protects us from the worst of the storm and the charged particles are deflected away from the atmosphere. This can be seen in the form of auroras or northern lights.