12 facts about my favorite star: The Sun.
Image credit: NASA
1. The Sun makes up about 99.8% of the mass in out solar system, and is more than 300,000 times heavier than the Earth. The sun’s mass is roughly 2 X 1027 tons. This number would be written out as a 2 followed by 27 zeros.
2. Classified as a G2 dwarf due to its size, heat, and chemical makeup, the Sun is a medium-sized star. A G star is cool (between 5,000-6,000 on the Kelvin temperature scale) and has a complex chemistry, which means its makeup includes chemicals heavier than helium.
3. The Sun is 93 million miles away from the Earth. Light from the Sun takes about 8 minutes to reach Earth.
4. In addition to light, the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. The wind blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) a second throughout the solar system.
5. Solar flares are jets of particles that burst from the sun and can disrupt satellite communications and knock out electricity on Earth.
6. Solar flares and sunspots are results of the Sun’s strong magnetic field. Approximately every 11 years, the sun reverses its overall magnetic polarity: its north magnetic pole becomes its south pole, and vice versa.
Image taken from: Random Facts
7. The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old and is expected to shine for another 5 billion years. However, in the next few billion years the Sun will heat to the point that liquid water will not exist on the surface of the Earth.
8. All of the planets in our solar system orbit the Sun in the same direction, counterclockwise, and on roughly the same plane, known as the ecliptic.
9. The Sun revolves around our galaxy every 225 – 250 million years (a galactic year).
10. The inside of the sun and most of its atmosphere is plasma. Plasma is basically a gas whose temperature has been raised to such a high level that it becomes sensitive to magnetism. Scientists sometimes emphasize the difference in behavior between plasma and other gas. They say that plasma is a fourth state of matter, alongside solid, liquid, and gas. But in general, scientists make the distinction between plasma and gas only when technically necessary.
11. A person weighing 150 pounds on Earth would weigh 4,200 pounds on the Sun.
12. The Greek philosopher Aristarchus is credited as being the first person to claim that the Earth orbited the Sun.
Image credit: Nasa/Transition Region & Coronal Explorer