You’ve Got Sol: 5 Things You Might Not Know About the Sun

Image Credit: Serg64 / Shutterstock.com
The sun is a rather familiar fixture in our lives, bathing the world in light and acting as the anchor for the entire solar system. But while you may be entirely aware of the sun and its better known details, there are many things about our closest, favorite star that you may not know. Sure, everyone can rattle of the basic stats, such as its 93 million mile distance from our planet (depending on the time of year, that is) and its size, which is a bit less than 110 times bigger than our lil’ home, but I bet you didn’t know that…

5 The Sun’s Surface Temperature Is 5500 Degrees Celsius

At its core, the sun is a bit warmer. How much warmer, you ask? Well, it’s about 14.9 MILLION degrees Celsius, so you do the math. Why is it so damn hot? It’s because the mechanism that drives the Sun, and therefore our entire solar system, is constant nuclear reaction. Every second, countless atoms are collapsing inward toward each other within the Sun, ready to be fused together, creating energy, light, and new elemental material, such as carbon atoms. That’s right, dear friends, you really are made of stars!

4 Comets Have Tails Thanks Entirely to the Sun

You surely know the difference between a comet and an asteroid (and the difference, pedantic though it is, between an asteroid, a meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite…), namely that comets are largely made of ice. Thus the wondrous tail a comet sports, which is made up of countless particles of frozen material breaking away from the main comet. You may not know that these tails always point away from the Sun, relative to the comet’s path – this is because they are directed away from the sun by the omnipresent solar wind, a kind of celestial breeze made up of electrons and protons that have escaped from the Sun’s gravity thanks to their small size and hyper-charged nature.

3 The Sun Accounts for Just a Tadunder 99% of the Mass of the ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM.

That’s right, from mighty Jupiter to the demoted, sulking Pluto, to the Kuiper Belt, to everything you have ever eaten, and only about one percent of the mass of our entire solar system exists outside of its huge, raging center. To put that into clearer perspective, the sun is huge, bro. That help?

2 The Sun is in About 5 Billion or So Years

The Sun, in about 5 billion or so years, will likely grow to over 250 times its present size (not mass, which will actually drop!) and thus will devour much of the solar system. If earth is still spinning its way around the sun then, this little dance will stop once our #1 star goes Red Giant on us.

1 The Sun, in About 5 Billion or So Years

Yes, despite being a gigantic flaming ball of flame, the Sun has discernible surface and atmospheric weather-like patterns. From sunspots, which are areas that appear darker than the rest of the surface due to increased magnetic activity reducing the release of energy/light, to solar flares, which is the rather the opposite occurrence, when much more energy than usual is released from the sun, often to the chagrin of electronics here on earth.

Now that you know a bit more about the Sun, why not learn all you can about the other exciting stars in the sky? You can start with Polaris, and work your way over to Alpha Centauri and Sirius, and then all the way to Ross 248 or even Struve 2398!

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