Related topics: earth · nasa · stars · magnetic field · solar system

Hubble catches cosmic snowflakes

Almost like snowflakes, the stars of the globular cluster NGC 6441 sparkle peacefully in the night sky, about 13,000 light-years from the Milky Way's galactic center. Like snowflakes, the exact number of stars in such a cluster ...

Hot stars are plagued by giant magnetic spots

Astronomers using European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes have discovered giant spots on the surface of extremely hot stars hidden in stellar clusters. Not only are these stars plagued by magnetic spots, some also ...

Galactic crash may have triggered solar system formation

The formation of the Sun, the Solar System and the subsequent emergence of life on Earth may be a consequence of a collision between our galaxy, the Milky Way, and a smaller galaxy called Sagittarius, discovered in the 1990s ...

In the far future, the universe will be mostly invisible

If you look out on the sky on a nice clear dark night, you'll see thousands of intense points of light. Those stars are incredibly far away, but bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from that great distance—a considerable ...

The Sun is less active magnetically than other stars

Our sun is the source of life on Earth. Its calm glow across billions of years has allowed life to evolve and flourish. This does not mean the sun doesn't have an active side. We have observed massive solar flares, such as ...

Study shows our sun is less active than similar stars

By cosmic standards the sun is extraordinarily monotonous. This is the result of a study presented by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in the upcoming issue of Science. For the first time, ...

page 1 from 100

Sun

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. The Earth and other matter (including other planets, asteroids, meteoroids, comets, and dust) orbit the Sun, which by itself accounts for about 99.86% of the Solar System's mass. The mean distance of the Sun from the Earth is approximately 149.6 million kilometers (93.0 million miles), and its light travels this distance in 8 minutes and 19 seconds. This distance varies throughout the year from a minimum of 147.1 million kilometers (91.4 million miles) on the perihelion (around 3 January), to a maximum of 152.1 million kilometers (94.5 million miles) on the aphelion (around 4 July). Energy from the Sun, in the form of sunlight, supports almost all life on Earth via photosynthesis, and drives the Earth's climate and weather. The Sun consists of hydrogen (about 74% of its mass, or 92% of its volume), helium (about 24% of mass, 7% of volume), and trace quantities of other elements, including iron, nickel, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, magnesium, carbon, neon, calcium, and chromium.

The Sun has a spectral class of G2V. G2 means that it has a surface temperature of approximately 5,780 K (5,510 °C) giving it a white color, which often appears as yellow when seen from the surface of the Earth because of atmospheric scattering. It is this scattering of light at the blue end of the spectrum that gives the surrounding sky its color. The Sun's spectrum contains lines of ionized and neutral metals as well as very weak hydrogen lines. The V (Roman five) in the spectral class indicates that the Sun, like most stars, is a main sequence star. This means that it generates its energy by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. There are more than 100 million G2 class stars in our galaxy. Once regarded as a small and relatively insignificant star, the Sun is now known to be brighter than 85% of the stars in the galaxy, most of which are red dwarfs.

The Sun's hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a hypersonic stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 AU. The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.

The Sun is currently traveling through the Local Interstellar Cloud in the low-density Local Bubble zone of diffuse high-temperature gas, in the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, between the larger Perseus and Sagittarius arms of the galaxy. Of the 50 nearest stellar systems within 17 light-years (1.6×1014 km) from the Earth, the Sun ranks 4th in mass as a fourth magnitude star (M = +4.83)., although slightly different values for the magnitude have been published, for example 4.85 and 4.81. The Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of approximately 24,000–26,000 light years from the galactic center, moving generally in the direction of Cygnus and completing one revolution in about 225–250 million years (one Galactic year). Its orbital speed was thought to be 220 ± 20, km/s but a new estimate gives 251 km/s. Since our galaxy is moving with respect to the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in the direction of Hydra with a speed of 550 km/s, the sun's resultant velocity with respect to the CMB is about 370 km/s in the direction of Crater or Leo.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA