The Sun is essential to human existence. Without it, life on Earth would seize to be. Mankind has worshiped and feared it in equal measure for eons. But modern science has unraveled a lot of the mysteries surrounding our nearest star, making for some fun discoveries and revelations. Now sit back and take in these 19 interesting facts about the Sun:
The heavenly body is made up of 28% helium and 70% hydrogen.
The surface of the Sun (what people can see) is 5,500 degrees celsius. But the core can exceed 15 million degrees celsius.
This incredible energy at the heart of the Sun is generated by nuclear fusion. This is a process in which atomic nuclei combine to form a heavy nucleus.
The Sun is 1,400,000 km in diameter.
99.8% of all the mass in the Milky Way can be attributed to the Sun.
To put the size of the Sun in perspective, if it was hollow, you could fit 1 million Earths in it. To get its mass, you would need to multiply the Earth’s mass by 330,000.
At the moment, the distance between the Sun and the galactic centre is roughly 25,000 light years.
The Sun is not stationary. It is moving at a speed of 220 km every second. It completes one orbit of the centre of the galaxy every 250 million years.
The Sun looks like one big ball of light but it has layers, namely: the photosphere, chromosphere, and corona.
It is also worth noting that the various parts of the Sun do not all spin at the same rate. For instance, you have places at the equator that can complete a rotation in 25 days. When you move to the poles, you will find that they take 36 days. The internal region of the Sun also works on its own schedule. It completes its rotation in 27 days or so.
Speaking of the Corona, it is the source of plasma ejections, also called solarwinds, that can reach speeds of 450 km per second as they cross the solar system.
The distance between our planet and the sun doesn’t stay the same. It normally ranges between 147 million km and 152 million km. You can blame this on the fact that the Earth follows an elliptical orbit when revolving around the Sun.
Light travels at 300,000 km every second. Because the distance between our planet and the Sun is roughly 150 million km, it takes light from the Sun eight minutes to reach the Earth.
The Sun’s age is roughly 4.5 billion years. That seems like a long time. But in truth, half of the Sun’s life is gone. It has 5 billion more years to go, after which it won’t be the yellow dwarf star we know today.
Even though you can fit 1 million Earths inside the Sun today, at some future point in time, the Sun will collapse in on itself, becoming roughly the size of our planet.
The Sun is slowly growing hotter. A billion years from now, it will grow so hot that all life on Earth will be extinguished.
In 7.6 billion years, the Sun will expand, consuming the Earth along with Mercury and Venus
Do you know any interesting facts about the Sun that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!