Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Overview of the Sun

Author: Richard Monk

The Sun is the centerpiece of our solar system, the gravity force that keeps everything together. Here is an overview of this source of our existence.

An Overview of the Sun

The Sun is a star, one of billions in the known universe. It is similar to other stars you see in the night sky, but is prominent in our lives because we orbit it once every 365 days.

The process pivotal in the creation of the Sun goes on to this very day. Roughly 4.5 billion years ago, a massive gas cloud surrounded by dust began to compress. As one small part gained in density, it started to produce a small gravitational pull. Over time, this sucked the rest of the gas and dust into an increasingly smaller area. Nobody is sure what first set off the gravity movement, but it may have been a supernova.

As the disk of material compressed, it created more gravity and sucked in more material. With spin induced, the disk produced heat. Throw in a bit of helium and trace elements and you have a cauldron that eventually became our Sun.

The actual process that fuels our Sun is called fusion. Fusion is fueled by the elements of the Sun to create what is essentially a ball of plasma. The atomic elements that act as fuel for this process are hydrogen and helium atoms. Hydrogen makes up roughly 74 percent of the mass of the Sun. Helium makes up roughly 24 percent. The remaining one percent consists of trace elements such as iron.

As to pure measurements, the Sun is pretty impressive. It does not have a solid surface, but it is generally considered to have a diameter of 864,900 miles. As a matter of comparison, the Earth has a diameter of some 7,900 miles. Every second, the Sun converts approximately 5 million tons of matter into energy. The outer layer of the sun averages roughly 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature at the core of the sun is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The sun is expected to continue to keep burning for another 4.5 to 5 billion years. Break out the sun block!

About the author: Richard Monk is with FactsMonk.com - a site with facts about everything. Visit us to read more about the Sun and solar system .

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