Our Sun

A:

The sun's energy comes from thermonuclear fusion reactions. Because the sun's gravity is so strong, hydrogen atoms fuse together to form helium. When they do so, they release a tremendous amount of energy.

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  • Why is totality during a solar eclipse not accomplished?

    Q: Why is totality during a solar eclipse not accomplished?

    A: According to CNN, a solar eclipse is only a total eclipse for those areas of the Earth directly beneath the moon's shadow. Since the moon is much smaller than the sun or the Earth, it may only completely block the sun's light over part of the Earth's surface. Anyone outside this full shadow may see a partial eclipse, but it will not achieve totality.
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  • Why does the sun appear to move across the sky?

    Q: Why does the sun appear to move across the sky?

    A: Relative to its planets, the sun is actually a stationary body, but it appears to move due to Earth's rotation. However, it is important to recognize that nothing is ever truly stationary.
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  • What is the difference between direct and indirect sunlight?

    Q: What is the difference between direct and indirect sunlight?

    A: Direct sunlight reaches the Earth's surface when there is no cloud cover between the sun and the Earth, while cloud cover causes indirect sunlight to reach the surface. In gardening, sunlight falling directly on the plant is direct sunlight, while indirect sunlight refers to shaded areas.
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  • What is the ultimate source of energy for living things?

    Q: What is the ultimate source of energy for living things?

    A: The ultimate source of energy for living things is the Sun. Plants and other photosynthetic organisms take the energy from sunlight to make glucose. This energy passes to other organisms through the food chain.
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  • Why is the sun considered a star?

    Q: Why is the sun considered a star?

    A: The sun is considered a star because it has all the characteristics of one. In fact, the sun is unremarkable. There are countless stars with the same attributes as the sun throughout the universe.
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  • Why is the sun important to Earth?

    Q: Why is the sun important to Earth?

    A: The sun is important to Earth because it warms the seas, generates weather patterns, stirs the atmosphere and provides energy to growing plants. The plants are responsible for providing oxygen and food for life to exist on Earth, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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  • What instrument is used to measure sunshine?

    Q: What instrument is used to measure sunshine?

    A: A solar radiometer is a device that accurately measures the sunlight's intensity, according to NASA. Simple mercury thermostats were used to measure sunlight many years ago, but these have been deemed untrustworthy.
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  • How much bigger is the Sun than the Earth?

    Q: How much bigger is the Sun than the Earth?

    A: In terms of radius, the Sun is about 109 times larger than Earth. The diameter of the Sun is approximately 864,948 miles while the diameter of Earth is only 7,926 miles. It is necessary to line up the Earth end-to-end 109 times to fit across the length of the Sun.
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  • What is the sun made of?

    Q: What is the sun made of?

    A: In elemental terms, the sun is made up of 74 percent hydrogen, 24 percent helium and 1 percent oxygen. The last 1 percent comprises of everything else, which includes carbon, nitrogen, silicon, magnesium, neon, iron and sulfur.
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  • What does the sun do?

    Q: What does the sun do?

    A: The sun holds the planets in their orbits, makes life possible on Earth and converts hydrogen into helium. The sun is a large ball of gas that is undergoing a thermonuclear reaction, which enables it to bathe the solar system in energy.
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  • Why is the sun so hot?

    Q: Why is the sun so hot?

    A: The sun is hot due to the nuclear fusion process taking place within it, which is called stellar nucleosynthesis. The enormous amount of energy released by this process, nearly 383 billion megawatts multiplied by one billion, produces the sun's incredible heat.
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  • What is the source of the sun's energy?

    Q: What is the source of the sun's energy?

    A: The sun's energy comes from thermonuclear fusion reactions. Because the sun's gravity is so strong, hydrogen atoms fuse together to form helium. When they do so, they release a tremendous amount of energy.
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  • What is the temperature of the sun?

    Q: What is the temperature of the sun?

    A: The surface temperature of the sun is about 5,800 kelvins. The temperature at the core of the sun is at least 15,000,000 kelvins. Most of the sun's constituent particles at the surface are gaseous atoms, as no liquid or solid can exist at such high temperatures.
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  • What causes the Coriolis effect?

    Q: What causes the Coriolis effect?

    A: The Coriolis effect is caused by a combination of the inertia of moving air and the rotation of the Earth. Air tends to move from high pressure to low pressure in a straight line, but the rotation of the Earth means that, to an observer at one spot on its surface, the moving air appears to turn. This effect increases as the air moves faster.
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  • What are the three layers of the sun's atmosphere?

    Q: What are the three layers of the sun's atmosphere?

    A: The three layers of the sun's atmosphere are the chromosphere, the transition layer and the corona. The corona is both the outer layer and the hottest layer of the atmosphere, as it can reach 2 million degrees Fahrenheit.
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  • Q: What does the Sun smell like?

    A: A person who came close enough to the Sun to get some in the nose would be unable to process any sensation other than instant combustion, and so the Sun cannot be said to smell like anything. Smell is not an intrinsic property of matter the way mass is. Instead, it's a wholly subjective result of molecules coming into contact with the olfactory cilia inside the nose.
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  • Q: What is the center of the sun called?

    A: The center of the sun is called its core. At the sun's core, atoms are packed very densely at 14 times the density of lead. The temperature of the core exceeds 15 million degrees Kelvin.
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  • Q: What is the definition of the intensity of solar radiation?

    A: The intensity of solar radiation is the amount of solar power per unit area. Power is the energy per second, so intensity describes how much energy the sun deposits in an area every second.
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  • Q: What is the diameter of the Sun?

    A: The diameter of the sun is approximately 864,938 miles, though there is a slight difference between its polar and equatorial diameters. As the sun is nearly in the shape of a perfect sphere, this diameter difference is only about 6.2 miles.
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  • Q: What is the fusion reaction that occurs in the Sun?

    A: The sun burns due to a nuclear fusion reaction that leads to the release of heat and light energy. It may seem paradoxical to some students that the sun can burn in space, an environment without oxygen, but it is burning thanks to a fusion reaction rather than combustion, so oxygen is not required for the sun to produce heat and light as if it were fire. Technically, the sun is not on fire as such but is a burning ball of nuclear fusion reactions.
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  • Q: What makes up the sun?

    A: The sun is almost entirely composed of hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen accounts for about 75 percent of the sun's mass, with the other 25 percent being almost entirely helium. Other elements, such as oxygen and carbon, do exist in the sun, but at such low concentrations as to be insignificant.
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