The Wonder of the Sun

14 Jul 2015

For most of us we take the Sun for granted, especially if we live in an area where the rainy days are few and far between. But unless we are scientists (or remember back to those science classes in grade school) we may be lacking the knowledge of how great this big ball of burning heat actually is.

Let’s take a look at the wonders of the Sun to gain a better appreciation of all it entails.

Simple or Complex? The Multi-Layered Burning Ball

The Sun is simple in its complexity, yet complex in its simplicity (wrap your mind around that statement). Our life-giving star is made up of layers that encapsulates its burning core. Lets investigate these further.

The Core

The Sun has a core which could be considered the “heart” of where it all begins. This center burns at a whopping temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius and is made up of gas in a plasmic state (electrons and ions). It also has the density of 150 times that of liquid water which accounts for 34 percent of the Sun’s mass, but only 0.08 percent of its volume – there’s the complex-simplicity at work…

The Radiative Zone

The core of our Sun is surrounded by the Radiative Zone. Here is where the electromagnetic radiation (as photons) are spewed out, but because the matter found lurking in here is so thick, these photons get broken up, scattered or absorbed. Once this happens it can take around 170,000 years for them to escape the Radiative Zone and into the Convective Zone.

The Convective Zone

When we enter into the Convective Zone the photons take on a liquid-state. This is a highly turbulent region that bubbles, boils and spits at a temperature of two million degrees Celsius and at a depth of 200,000 kilometers (124,274 miles). These enormous and massively hot bubbles then move into the Photosphere of the Sun.

The Photosphere

This is considered the surface of the Sun and is the deepest layer that scientists can directly observe. In this zone the temperatures can reach 3,700 to 7,700 degrees Celsius (6700 to 14,000 degrees Fahrenheit) – strangely enough, the farther away the Photosphere is the hotter it gets. The Sun now produces radiation that takes eight minutes to reach us as sunlight.

The Chromosphere and the Corona

The last two main layers of the Sun are light gases known as the Corona and the Chromosphere. The Corona basks around the Sun in a crown of bright light – its name is derived from the Latin language meaning “Crown.” Without cloud cover or a solar eclipse, these two layers cannot be viewed from Earth because of the intensity of the Sun’s blinding rays.

The Chromosphere burns up to an astounding 7,700 degrees Celsius (14,000 degrees Fahrenheit) while the Corona (the outermost level) seers with a 500,000 degree temperature (900,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

All these layers combine to give us the perfect heat, light and life-source on our planet. But that’s just the “tip of the flame.” Did you know…

  • the Sun is made up of 91.2 percent hydrogen and 7.8 percent helium?
  • many cultures around the world once worshiped the Sun? Some still do.
  • our Sun is over one million times larger than Earth?
  • the diameter of the Sun is 4,730,005 kilometers (2,715,395 miles)?
  • Earth is closer to the Sun than any other star?

Where would we be without the Sun? Whether we’re out enjoying the summer season or waiting for it to roll around again, remember the importance and significance of this burning orb. After all, nothing makes a day brighter or more appealing than enjoying some free time basking in the Sun.