The Sun

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The Solar System's Star

The Sun is the star at the center of the solar system. It is a nearly perfect sphere, or ball, of plasma, 1.391 million km in diameter (over 100 times the Earth's) and with a surface temperature of approximately 5,505°C. Its mass is about 1.989 × 1030 kg, which is about 330,000 times that of Earth, and accounts for about 99.86% of the entire mass of the solar system. About 73% of this mass is made up of hydrogen (H), with about another 25% coming from helium (He), and the remaining 2% from mainly oxygen (O), carbon (C), neon (Ne), and iron (Fe).

Cool Facts About The Sun

  • The Sun has burned through about half of its hydrogen, and will only continue to exist for about another 5 billion years.
  • The photons, or particles of light, emitted by the Sun take about 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach the Earth through the vacuum of space.
  • The Sun is so enormous that about 1.3 million Earths could fit inside of it.
  • The Sun rotates in the opposite direction of the Earth: west to east instead of east to west.
  • The Sun emits solar winds, extremely hot and high-energy ejections of plasma, that can travel through space at up to 1.62 million kph.
  • The Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, or northern and southern lights are caused by the interactions of the Sun's solar winds with Earth's atmosphere.


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