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Personal Blog of Eric J. Kuhns

3 Facts About Our Sun That You May Not Know.

 Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Look up into the sky on any given day and you'll see the sun (well, don't look directly at it.) That big ball of heat is why we all exist. Sometimes, I think we take that for granted and yet, feelings aside, our main star just keeps on burning. 

Even from Earth's early days, 4.5 billion years ago, our sun contributed parts of itself to allow gravity to pull us together, as well as our neighbors. We happened to be the planet that formed in the "Goldilock Zone" or "Circumstellar Habitable Zone" - an area that isn't too cold for life, but isn't too hot either. Don't assume we're that special yet though, as there are hundreds of billions of areas like this all over the universe that may harbor life, but that's a subject for another post.

Today, I'm going to focus on the sun and three facts you may not have known about it.

Let's dive in.

1. The sun accounts for the majority of the mass in the solar system.

 Photo Courtesy of Reddit

Photo Courtesy of Reddit

99.86% to be exact (1.989 × 10^30 kg). About 72% of it is made of Hydrogen and another 26% is helium with trace amounts of oxygen, carbon, neon, nitrogen, magnesium, iron and silicon. These elements are created at the sun's core, in the same way that the elements that make us up were created in other stars through their deaths. We call this process nuclear fusion.

2. The sun would explode now, if it wasn't for its gravity.

 Photo courtesy of Celestial Fabric

Photo courtesy of Celestial Fabric

The Sun can reach temperatures upwards of 15 million degrees Celsius. I realize a temperature that high is hard to grasp, but the energy is generated through nuclear fusion. At this point in the heated process, hydrogen converts to helium. When objects expand like this(generally), they tend to explode, but because of its extreme gravitational pull, it stays together(sort of). That's in its current state though, because...

3. Eventually, the sun will swallow us whole.

 Photo courtesy of Sonarent

Photo courtesy of Sonarent

Don't go quitting your job yet though, as this won't occur for roughly another 7 billion years. After the sun burns through its hydrogen, it will begin burning its helium. During this time, Mercury, Venus, and Earth will be swallowed whole. (In case you were wondering, Mars won't be too pleasant at this point either.) Congrats! Whoever is still alive, from far away, will see our sun as a red giant, which will be shining 3,000 times brighter than normal. Shortly after (on a cosmic timeline), the sun will reach its final stage, where it will collapse into a white dwarf. 

 Photo courtest of Sky and Telescope

Photo courtest of Sky and Telescope

To learn more, check out the video below from Veritasium!