What is the size of the sun and where does it get its energy?
The Sun’s diameter is 864,938 miles (1,391,980 km). This is almost 10 times larger than the planet Jupiter and about 109 times as big as the Earth. The volume of the Sun is 1,299,400 times bigger than the volume of the Earth; about 1,300,000 Earths could fit inside the Sun.
As compared to other stars, however, the Sun is about average, red giants like Betelgeuse are about 700 times bigger than our Sun (and roughly 50 times as massive). Betelgeuse is also about 14,000 times brighter than the Sun. Red supergiants dwarf the Sun.
The Sun’s mass is roughly 1.99 x 1030 kg. This is about 333,000 times the mass of the Earth. The Sun contains 99.8% of all of the mass of the Solar System (all other planets and their moons asteroids and comets all combined.
The mass of the sun is decreasing over time, as fusion reactions convert hydrogen into helium, releasing huge amounts of energy in the process.
The Sun actually is a star and it really is generally much an average one, just one of about 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy (the galaxy in which our solar systemis).
But it is a special star for those of us who live on Earth, because we are so close to it that it appears extremely bright. All the other stars are so far away that they can only show up at night, when the sky is so dark that we can see their faint light as it reaches us after crossing unimaginable distances.
If you were lucky enough to travel to any another star, the Sun would look like just one of the many magnificent pinpoints of light in the sky, making it hard to imagine that it’s the brilliant Sun that Earthlings depend upon.
Although the Sun doesn’t light up the other stars, it does provide the daylight here on Earth; and the moon and planets we see are illuminated by that same sunlight.
All stars produce light (and other kinds of energy) through nuclear reactions, using the energy stored in the tiny nucleus at the centre of atoms. These reactions make the star so hot that it glows -- it’s like an enormous ball of fire, giving out light and heat.
The Sun provides nearly all the energy that keeps the Earth warm and provides the energy which we need to live and to power everything else.
Even things like coal and oil and natural gas were originally created millions of years ago by plants that used solar energy to make lots of more plants, which then all died and accumulated and got squeezed into the coal and oil that we now use to heat with and to power cars.
People have realized how important the Sun is for thousands of years. Once people realized that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun (around 1600 AD) and then Newton described an equation for how gravity works, it was possible to know how far away it is (93 million miles or 150 million kilometers) and even how “heavy” (massive) it is (about two thousand million million million million tons).
The Sun is the most prominent feature in our solar system. It is the largest object and contains approximately 98% of the total solar system mass.
One hundred and nine Earths would be required to fit across the Sun’s disk, and its interior could hold over 1.3 million Earths.
The Sun’s outer visible layer is called the photosphere and has a temperature of 6,000°C (11,000°F). This layer has a mottled appearance due to the turbulent eruptions of energy at the surface.
Solar energy is created deep within the core of the Sun. It is here that the temperature (15,000,000° C; 27,000,000° F) and pressure (340 billion times Earth’s air pressure at sea level) is so intense that nuclear reactions take place.
This reaction causes four protons or hydrogen nuclei to fuse together to form one alpha particle or helium nucleus. The alpha particle is about .7 percent less massive than the four protons.
The difference in mass is expelled as energy and is carried to the surface of the Sun, through a process known as convection, where it is released as light and heat. Energy generated in the Sun’s core takes a million years to reach its surface.
Every second 700 million tons of hydrogen are converted into helium ashes. In the process 5 million tons of pure energy is released; therefore, as time goes on the Sun is becoming lighter.
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