Sun Q and A

Today, we discuss the one ball of gas that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts: The Sun. Any astronomy nut will be able to tell you that The Sun is the star at the very center of our solar system and is primarily responsible for our planet’s climate and weather. What we’ll be discussing today are some questions about our Sun.

Q: What is the shape of the Sun?
A: The Sun is an almost perfect sphere. It is estimated that only around a 10 km difference is in its polar diameter compared to its equatorial diameter.

Q: How old is our Sun?
A: From the more recent calculations, our Sun is around 4.6 billion years old.

Q: How many Earths can fit inside the Sun?
A: If we were to hollow out our Sun and place spherical Earths within it, an estimated 960,000 Earths would fit inside.

Q: What is the Sun’s circumference?
A: 4,366,813 km

Q: How long does light from the Sun take to reach Earth?
A: Given the average distance of 150 km from Earth and light that travels at 300,000 kilometers per second, it should take around 500 seconds or 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the light from the Sun to reach Earth. It is important to note that although it reaches Earth in a few minutes, according to space-time relativity, it would have already taken millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

Q: How fast does the Sun travel?
A: If you’re referring to the speed in which the Sun completes an orbit of the center of the Milky way, it would be 220 kilometers per second.

Q: Does the distance between the Earth and Sun remain constant?
A: No. The Earth travels on an elliptical orbit around the sun. Therefore, the distance between the two varies from 147 to 152 million kilometers.

Q: Does the Sun have a strong magnetic field?
A: Yes. Solar flares occur when magnetic energy is unleashed by the Sun in the event of magnetic storms. We see them as sunspots. In these sunspots, the magnetic lines are twisted and often spin–much like how you’d expect a tornado to move.

Q: What is the temperature of the center of the Sun?
A: At the very center of the Sun, temperatures can rise as much as 15 million Celsius.

Q: What is the temperature of the Sun’s surface?
A: The Sun’s surface reaches around 5,600 degrees Celsius.

Q: Does the Sun contain the most mass in the Solar System?
A: Yes. Our Sun contains around 99.86% of the mass in the Solar System. This is so because it is almost three quarters Hydrogen–the rest is Helium.

Q: Is the Sun “immortal”?
A: While the Sun has been depicted as a God in many cultures, it is in fact, not “immortal”. One day the sun will die out. Once the hydrogen in the Sun has burned away, it shall continue to burn for about 130 million more years–consuming what remains (Helium). In which event, the Sun shall expand and consume Mercury, Venus, and the Earth.