Sun Facts: Everything you need to know about the Sun

Sun, the supreme star is at the center of our solar system. It binds eight planets and five dwarf planets along with comets, satellites, and asteroids with its high gravitational field around it. In this sun facts post, I will explain the details about the sun in an easily understandable way and will cover all those matters. Not all of us are scientists and need extensive scientific terms which may bounce over for most of the people. Let’s begin with the basics, then we will go deeper and deeper.

Images of the sun in various wavelengths
Images of the sun captured at the same time with different wavelengths. Photo: NASA

Size of the sun:

The size of the Sun is around 109 times that of the Earth. Its radius is around 432,168.6 miles (~695,508 kilometers).

Is the sun a planet?

No, the sun is a star. A star is a highly condensed gas cloud comprising of mostly Hydrogen and Helium.

The star undergoes nuclear fusion reaction to convert Hydrogen into Helium, making it an extreme source of energy.

The temperature of the sun:

The surface temperature of the sun is around 10000 Fahrenheit (~5537 Celsius). But the different layers of the sun has a tremendous temperature around a million degrees. I have provided a detailed temperature chart for all the layers in the “Layers of the sun” section.

Age of the sun:

The sun was formed nearly 4.6 billion years ago and is a yellow dwarf star.

How the sun was formed?

Around 4.5 billion years ago, the sun and the solar system formed from a rotating massive cloud of gas and asteroids, called a solar nebula. The nebula eventually collapsed due to its super strong gravity. In the process of becoming a dwarf star, the mass of the solar nebula was pulled toward the center which formed our Sun. The outer layer of the nebula was exploded into space which formed our solar system. The Sun holds about 99.8% mass of the solar system. You can imagine now, how the matter is squeezed inside the sun.

I have done a lot of research and explained the dwarf star, neutron star and black hole deeply in another post. You can read that in order to visualize the overall process.

Read also: How the black holes are formed?

The composition of the sun:

Like other stars, the sun is a ball of highly condensed gas. It contains around 91.0% hydrogen and 8.9% helium. With respect to mass, the sun contains 70.6% hydrogen and 27.4% helium as hydrogen is lighter than helium.

Other sun facts:

The gravity of the sun is 274 m/s² and is nearly 28 times stronger than Earth (i.e. 9.807 m/s2). The gravitational pull of the sun is strong enough to hold the entire solar system together including eight planets, five dwarf planets and many comets, satellites, asteroids etc.

There are billions of stars like the sun in our galaxy, Milky Way.
The Sun is at the center of the solar system and is around 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from the Earth.

What are solar winds?

The electric currents generated in the sun creates a magnetic field that is carried out to space and the solar system by the solar wind. The solar wind is a stream of electrically charged gas blowing outward from the sun in all directions. The speed of the solar wind is around 300km/sec when it hits magnetosphere of the earth.

What are solar flares?

Solar flares occur when the magnetic field on the sun combines in sunspot areas where the magnetic field is very strong. This causes a massive eruption of magnetic energy into the sky. The magnetic eruption causes a huge explosion equivalent to millions of nuclear bombs.

Solar flare images
Images of the solar flare. Photo: NASA, Flickr

Around every 11 years, the sun releases a large flare of energy which can reach earth. The Magnetic energy contains x-rays, gamma rays, UV rays, and radio waves etc. The last solar flare happened in September 2017 and was of high magnitude.

You can watch the slideshow on the various images captured with ultraviolet lights from the NASA website. Click here to watch.

Does the sun revolve?

Like the Earth and other planets orbit around the sun, the sun itself orbits around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, along with the planets, asteroids, comets and other objects along with it. Our whole solar system is rotating around the center of the galaxy with an average velocity of 450,000 miles/hour (720,000 kilometers/hour). Even with this speed, it takes around 230 million years to complete one cycle around the Milky Way galaxy.

The sun spins around its axis once in every 25 days, but at its poles, it completes one full spin in around 36 days. The sun is tilted 7.25 degrees with respect to the planets’ orbitals. We can consider the planets’ orbitals are inclined with respect to the axis of the sun in another way.

When will the sun burn out?

The sun contains sufficient nuclear fuel to provide energy to us for another 5 billion years. Then, the outer layer of the sun will be scattered into space and the core will collapse, resulting in a white dwarf. The Sun will never become a black hole as it is not large enough to be a black hole. A star needs to have at least 3 times the mass of the sun in order to become a black hole.

Layers of the sun:

Layers of the sun
The layers of the sun from its core to corona layer. Photo: Wikimedia

The Sun has six layers:

Serial #Layer NameLayer Height
Temperature in °F
Temperature in °C
1Core 86000 miles from center27 million15 million
2Radiative zone86000 to 319000 miles13 million to 3.5 million7.2 million to 1.94 million
3Convective zone319000 to 432000 miles3.5 million to 105001.94 million to 5815
4Photosphere250 miles from the visible surface10500 to 67005815 to 3700
5Chromosphere250 to 1300 miles from the surface6700 to 140003700 to 7760
6Corona >1300 miles from surface0.9 million0.5 million

The surface of the sun is not solid like planets, rather it is gassy.

NASA has launched a robotic spacecraft Parker Solar Probe on August 12, 2018, to observe corona, the outer layer of the sun. The spacecraft is highly resistant to solar heat by a solar shield and it will monitor the outer layer of the sun from 4.3 million miles distance. This is the first spacecraft to go so much closer to the sun. The Parker Solar Probe will investigate the electromagnetic fields and the solar winds along with a few other key factors.

With the Parker Solar Probe en route, we can expect more accurate data and observation in near future about the sun. The outcome of the Parker Solar Probe is much awaited for mankind and it can help scientists to invent new ways of harnessing the power of the sun.

I hope you got complete details about the sun. If you liked the facts about the sun, you can share with the ones who seek for knowledge.

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