What Does the Sun Do?

sun Credit: Libertad Leal Photography/Moment/Getty Images

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.

The sun is a remarkably large object, and it is more than 1 million times more massive than the Earth. This incredible mass causes the sun to have a very strong gravitational pull. This gravitational pull is responsible for the orbits of all eight planets, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud.

The sun’s energy makes it possible for life to exist on the Earth. Without the sun, the earth would be a frozen ball of ice that would be inhospitable to life as we know it. Additionally, the sun’s rays enable plants to engage in photosynthesis, which provides food for the entire food chain.

The sun’s energy comes from a fusion reaction deep within its core. Because of its incredibly high temperatures and pressures, the sun can fuse atoms of hydrogen together to produce atoms of helium. In the process, a vast amount of energy is created. The sun has existed for about 4.5 billion years, and it is likely to last for about 5 billion more years before it swells into a red giant, engulfing many of the planets close to it.