Sunday, February 22, 2009

The magnificent Sun

How big is the Sun?

The Sun has a diameter of 1.4 million kilometers. How big is that? Well compare that with our Earth (that can make us say oh-so-big phrases like “…as far as the eyes can see” and “…from the other end of the Earth”) which has a diameter of (merely) 13 000 kilometers.

For the ease of imagining: if the Sun was the size of a basketball, then the Earth would be the size of the tip of a pin (wonder where that would put us).
If we arranged Earths at the Suns equator, we’d have to arrange 100 Earths to span the Suns diameter!
And if the Sun was a hollow ball, we’d be able to fit in one million Earths inside of it –yes 1 with six zeroes in front of it!

How heavy is the Sun?

If there was a scale massive enough fit the Sun and it stood on one end; and then the Earth, all the other 7 planets(Pluto is no longer considered a planet), Pluto, the asteroid belt, and every other form of existence in our solar system (aside from the Sun) stood on the other end, the Sun would still outweigh all the others. This is because even together, everything else besides the Sun only make up ~ 2% of the solar systems mass. The other 98% is the Sun!

2 X 10 ^ 30 KG. That is to say a 2 with 30 zeroes in front of it in kilograms. This is approximately how heavy our Sun weighs.

How old is the Sun?

About 4.5 billion years. That’s actually not very old (for a sun), but not too young either. If a comparison is to be made, then it’ll be (more or less) a young adult. During its life, the Sun has been converting its hydrogen store into helium in a process known as nuclear fusion.
As its hydrogen store depletes, the Sun expands and thus becomes brighter. It has depleted about half of the hydrogen store in its core, and is about 30% brighter than when it was born. It will continue to expand and grow brighter as it runs out of hydrogen, and in roughly 3 billion years, it will be so bright that it would evaporate all the oceans on Earth. In about 5 billion years, all the hydrogen in the Suns core will have depleted, and it will begin the change to become a red giant.

The Sun will expand until its diameter is about the size of Jupiters orbit! Of course…everything in the way will be evaporated…including Earth.

How hot is the Sun?

The photosphere (the Suns ‘surface’, though the Sun does not actually have a surface like Earth) is ~ 6000 degrees Celsius. For comparison: the meting point of (pure) iron is ~ 1510 degrees Celsius.

Above the photosphere, the Sun ‘cools down’ a little…to around 4000 degrees Celsius. Cold…in comparison. Even further up in a region of violent inferno known as the chromosphere, the temperature rises again to reach a peak of ~27 800 degrees Celsius.

If the surface is hot, then the inside is a blazing hellfire at temperatures reaching 6.5 million degrees Celsius in the radiation zone (a region of the Sun below the ‘surface’/photosphere).

Something to think about

If the Sun is such a magnificent entity, then how Great is its Creator?
How Magnificent is He Who created the Sun with all its glory; and countless other Suns, many far more awe striking than our very average Sun.

“Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater (matter) than the creation of men: yet most men know not”.

[Surah ghaafir 40 : 57]

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