The Sun – Master of the Solar System

The Sun is a yellow dwarf star. It is the star at the center of the solar system and the master of the solar system.

It is an almost perfect sphere of hot plasma, with an internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process.

It is the most important source of energy not only on Earth but rather by far for each planet in the system.     

Today, we are going to know very few but amazing facts of our very own master of the solar system  

Size and Distance

With a radius of 432,168.6 miles (695,508 kilometers), our Sun the master of the solar system is not an especially large star—many are several times bigger—but it is still far more massive than our home planet: 332,946 Earths could not surpass the mass of the Sun collectively. The Sun’s volume is equivalent to 1.3 million Earths’ Volume

The Sun is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth.

Its nearest stellar neighbor is the Alpha Centauri triple star system: Proxima Centauri is 4.24 light years away, and Alpha Centauri A and B—two stars orbiting each other—are 4.37 light years away.

A light year is the distance light travels in one year, which is equal to 5,878,499,810,000 miles or 9,460,528,400,000 kilometers.

Formation

The Sun and the rest of the solar system formed from a giant, rotating cloud of gas and dust called a solar nebula about 4.5 billion years ago.

As the nebula collapsed because of its overwhelming gravity, it spun faster and flattened into a disk. Most of the material was pulled toward the center to form our Sun.  

A Massive Celestial Object

The sun of our Solar system is so massive that it has a mass equals to 332,946 Earths and a diameter of adding 109 piles of earth together.

The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earth to fill it. It is so massive that it accounts for 99.86% mass of the total of our solar system. Its massiveness is one of the reason of it being the master of the solar system.      

Orbit & Rotation

Our sun is located in the milky way galaxy. More specifically, it is on a spiral arm called the Orion Spur that extends outwards the Sagittarius arm.

From there, the sun orbits the milky way galaxy along with its planets, asteroids, comets, moons and other objects.

Master of the Solar system; the sun along with its slaves is moving at the velocity of 720,000 Kilometers per hour. But even at this speed, it takes 230 million years to make one complete orbit around the Milky Way.  

The sun rotates as it orbits the center of the Milky Way.

It’s spin has an axial tilt of 7.25 degrees with respect to the plane of the planets’ orbit. Since the sun is not a solid body, different parts of the Sun rotate at different rates.

At the equator, the Sun spins around once about every 25 days, but at its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 days.      

A Massive Source of Energy

The Sun, like other stars, is a ball of gas. in terms of number of atoms, it is made of 91.0% hydrogen and 8.9% of helium.

By mass, the Sun is about 73% hydrogen and 25% helium. This huge amount of hydrogen atom is fusing and generating an enormous amount of energy.                        

Every second, the Sun fuses 600 Million tons of hydrogen into helium and converting 4 million tons of matter into energy.

This energy takes around 170000 years to get from the core to the top of the convective zone.   

Structure and the Zones 

The structure of the Sun contains the following layers:

Core

the innermost 20–25% of the Sun’s radius, where temperature (energies) and pressure are sufficient for nuclear fusion to occur.

Hydrogen fuses into helium (which cannot currently be fused at this point in the Sun’s life).

The fusion process releases energy, and the helium gradually accumulates to form an inner core of helium within the core itself.

Radiative zone

Convection cannot occur until much nearer the surface of the Sun.

Therefore, between about 20–25% of the radius, and 70% of the radius, there is a “radiative zone” in which energy transfer occurs by means of radiation (photons) rather than by convection.

Tachocline

The boundary region between the radiative and convective zones.

Convective zone

Between about 70% of the Sun’s radius and a point close to the visible surface, the Sun is cool and diffuse enough for convection to occur, and this becomes the primary means of outward heat transfer, similar to weather cells which form in the earth’s atmosphere.

Photosphere

The deepest part of the Sun which we can directly observe with visible light. Because the Sun is a gaseous object, it does not have a clearly defined surface; its visible parts are usually divided into a ‘photosphere’ and ‘atmosphere’.

Atmosphere

A gaseous ‘halo’ surrounding the Sun, comprising the chromosphere, solar transition region, corona, and heliosphere. These can be seen when the main part of the Sun is hidden, for example, during a solar eclipse.

Surface

The surface of the Sun, the photosphere, is a 300-mile-thick (500-kilometer-thick) region, from which most of the Sun’s radiation escapes outward. This is not a solid surface like the surfaces of planets. Instead, this is the outer layer of the gassy star.

We see radiation from the photosphere as sunlight when it reaches Earth about eight minutes after it leaves the Sun. The temperature of the photosphere is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius).

Atmosphere

Above the photosphere lie the tenuous chromosphere and the corona (crown), which make up the thin solar atmosphere. This is where we see features such as sunspots and solar flares.

Visible light from these top regions is usually too weak to be seen against the brighter photosphere, but during total solar eclipses, when the moon covers the photosphere, the chromosphere looks like a red rim around the Sun, while the corona forms a beautiful white crown with plasma streamers narrowing outward, forming shapes that look like flower petals.

Strangely, the temperature in the Sun’s atmosphere increases with altitude, reaching as high as 3.5 million degrees Fahrenheit (2 million degrees Celsius). The source of coronal heating has been a scientific mystery for more than 50 years.

Potential for Life

The Sun itself is not a good place for living things, with its hot, energetic mix of gases and plasma. But the Sun has made life on Earth possible, providing warmth as well as energy that organisms like plants use to form the basis of many food chains.

Moons

The Sun and other stars don’t have moons; instead, they have planets and their moons, along with asteroids, comets, and other objects.

Rings

The Sun does not have rings.

Magnetosphere

The electric currents in the Sun generate a complex magnetic field that extends out into space to form the interplanetary magnetic field. The volume of space controlled by the Sun’s magnetic field is called the heliosphere.

The Sun’s magnetic field is carried out through the solar system by the solar wind—a stream of electrically charged gas blowing outward from the Sun in all directions. Since the Sun rotates, the magnetic field spins out into a large rotating spiral, known as the Parker spiral.

The Sun doesn’t behave the same way all the time. It goes through phases of its own solar cycle.

Approximately every 11 years, the Sun’s geographic poles change their magnetic polarity.

When this happens, the Sun’s photosphere, chromosphere, and corona undergo changes from quiet and calm to violently active.

The height of the Sun’s activity, known as solar maximum, is a time of solar storms: sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections.

These are caused by irregularities in the Sun’s magnetic field and can release huge amounts of energy and particles, some of which reach us here on Earth.

This space weather can damage satellites, corrode pipelines, and affect power grids.

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