Astronomy Basics: Discover 10 Sun Facts That are Really Amazing

We don’t need a spyglass to see the Sun. The home star of our solar system, responsible for the Earth’s climate and weather, is visible to the naked eye.

But do you know that the Sun has an almost perfect sphere form? That astronomers estimated that the Sun has a diameter of 1,392,684 km between the poles and the equator? Or even that the Sun is billions of years old and at the same time is only middle aged?

In this post, we talk about the Milky Way’s greatest star. Discover now

10 facts that you don’t know about the Sun:

Sun facts #1: How many earths fit inside the Sun?

The Sun’s mass is estimated to be around 1.989×1030 kilograms, has a surface area that is 11,990 times that of the Earth’s and has a diameter of 1,392,684 km, so it is no surprise that the earth could easily fit in. The question is: how many Earths could fit inside the Sun if it was hollow? Theoretically, we could stuff around 960,000 circular Earths inside the Sun. Even more would fit in if these Earths were squished inside, completing all the vacant spaces.

Sun facts #2: One day the Sun will grow bigger

Astronomy explains that the Sun is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. Although the first one represents 75% of the Sun’s mass, when all the hydrogen is burned the Sun will continue for about 130 million more years burning Helium. During that time it will become a great red star, expanding to the point where it will engulf planets like Mercury, Venus and Earth.

Sun facts #3: And then the Sun will grow shorter

After its red giant phase, the Sun will then collapse. The Sun, while retaining its enormous mass, will decrease in size becoming so incredibly little that will reach the size of Earth. The astronomers have already decided the name for the Sun in this phase – white dwarf – although there will be anyone left to see that.

Sun facts #4: The Sun is (almost) round

We always imagine the Sun as a sphere. In our school drawings we used to do a yellow circular form to represent the Sun. In fact, the Sun its not round: its almost round. There is only a 10 kilometer difference between its polar diameter compared to its equatorial diameter. Perfection aside, we have to recognize that given the vast expanse of the Sun, this is the closest thing to a perfect sphere that has been observed in nature.

Sun facts #5: 8 minutes to reach the earth

8 minutes and 20 seconds. That’s how much does it take the sunlight to travel to the earth. It’s easy to do the math: with an average distance of 150 million kilometers from Earth and with light travelling at 300,000 kilometers per second, we only have to divide one with the other. The result is 500 seconds, equivalent to 8 minutes and 20 seconds. If you think that 8 minutes is a lot of time, consider that the light that reached the Earth can actually take millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to reach its surface due to something known as the Drunkard’s Walk phenomena.

Sun facts #6: Travelling at 220 kilometers per second

The Sun is 24,000-26,000 light years from the galactic center. Being that so, it takes 225-250 million years to complete an orbit around the Milky Way. Currently, the Sun is travelling through the local interstellar cloud, within the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way.

Sun facts #7: Sun and Earth’s dance

Thanks to Copernicus’ heliocentric theory we know that the Earth travels an elliptical orbit around the Sun. The distance between the two celestial bodies varies from 147 to 152 million kilometers and changes during the year in accordance to their movements. Yes, there is a dance on solar system to watch.

Sun facts #8: How much older is the Sun?

The Sun is around 4.5 billion years old and it’s middle-aged. Middle aged, you ask? How can that be? Well, astronomers confirmed that the Sun has already burned off about half of its store of Hydrogen. For now, it has enough left to burn Hydrogen for approximately another 5 billion years.

Sun facts #9: How hot is the Sun?

There are certain areas of the Sun that are hotter than others. For instance, at the Sun’s core, the very place where energy is generated by the fusion of about 620 million metric tons of hydrogen each second, the temperatures are so high that if it wasn’t for the enormous gravitational force of the Sun the star would explode like a giant bomb. On the surface, the temperature is around 5778 K (5505 ºC).

Sun facts #10: The Sun generates wind

Solar wind consists in a stream of charged particles that travels through the Solar System at approximately 450 kilometers per second. This kind of phenomenon occurs when the magnetic field of the Sun extends into space instead of following its surface.

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Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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