The Sun (or Sol) is the star at the centre of our solar system that is responsible for the climate and weather on Earth. The Sun is an almost perfect sphere with a difference of only 10 kilometers in diameter between the poles and equator. Read on for more interesting facts about this special star!
1. A million Earths fit into the Sun.
If the Sun were hollow, it would fit about 960,000 round globes. If the globes were crushed inside the Sun without leaving any space, it would fit about 1,300,000 Earths. The surface of the sun is 11,990 times larger than that of the earth. The sun contains 99.86% of the total mass in our solar system.
2. The mass of the sun is about 330,000 times greater than that of the Earth.
Almost three-quarters of this mass consists of hydrogen and most of the remaining mass consists of helium.
3. The sun is an almost perfect sphere.
The difference between the polar and equatorial diameters of the Sun is only 10 kilometers. This means that the Sun is the closest thing to a perfect sphere that has ever been observed.
4. The sun will one day swallow up the Earth.
Once the sun has burned all its hydrogen, it will continue to burn helium for another 130 million years or so. During this period, the sun will expand and first swallow up Mercury and Venus and then the Earth. At this stage, the sun will become a red giant.
5. One day, the sun will be about the same size as the Earth.
After the sun has passed its red giant phase, it will collapse. The sun will retain its enormous mass, but with the volume of our planet. When this happens, the sun will have become a white dwarf.
6. The temperature in the sun can reach up to 15 million degrees Celsius.
Energy is generated in the sun’s core by nuclear fusion, namely by converting hydrogen into helium. Hot objects expand and the sun would explode without its enormous gravity. The temperature at the surface of the sun is around 5,600 degrees Celsius.
7. Sunlight takes eight minutes to reach Earth.
The distance from the Earth to the sun is about 150 million kilometres. Light travels at a speed of about 300,000 kilometres per second. By a simple calculation, you arrive at 500 seconds, or 8 minutes and 20 seconds. Although this energy reaches the Earth in a few minutes, it takes millions of years before the energy from the core reaches the surface of the sun.
8. The distance from the sun to Earth changes throughout the year.
This is because the Earth orbits the sun in an elliptical orbit. The distance between the two celestial bodies varies from 147 to 152 million kilometres.
9. The sun is of middle age.
With an age of about 4.6 billion years, the sun has already burned almost half of its hydrogen supply. Fortunately, there is still enough left to keep burning for the next 5 billion years. The sun is currently a star known as a yellow dwarf.
10. The sun has a very strong magnetic field.
The magnetic energy released by the sun during magnetic storms causes solar flares. We see these appear as sunspots. In the sunspots, the magnetic forces orbit just like a tornado on Earth.
11. The sun generates solar wind.
This wind consists of a stream of charged particles that travel through the solar system at about 450 kilometres per second. Solar wind occurs when the sun’s magnetic field extends into space.