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Basic Information About The Sun         Since The Birth Of Mankind,

1839 words - 7 pages

Basic Information about the sun Since the birth of mankind, the Earth has been lit by the vibrant light of our closest star, The Sun. The sun, which is roughly 1 au from the earth, is a giant ball of burning gases, without much solid. The Sun was "born" approximately 5 billion years ago, as it began it's formation in a huge cloud of gases. As the materials condensed, high temperatures and great pressures built up at the center. These conditions set off a nuclear reaction that still releases energy and causes this star to continuously shine. This nuclear reaction, known as nuclear fusion, produces 386 billion megawatts of energy per second. This solar energy is created deep within the core of the Sun. It is here that the temperature (15,000,000° C; 27,000,000° F) and pressure (340 billion times Earth's air pressure at sea level) is so intense that these nuclear reactions take place. This reaction causes four protons or hydrogen nuclei to fuse together to form one alpha particle or helium nucleus. The alpha particle is about .7 percent less massive than the four protons. The difference in mass is expelled as energy and is carried to the surface of the Sun, through a process known as convection, where it is released as light and heat. Energy generated in the Sun's core takes a million years to reach its surface. Every second 700 million tons of hydrogen are converted into helium ashes. In the process 5 million tons of pure energy is released; therefore, as time goes on the Sun is becoming lighter.The atmosphere The atmosphere of the sun is also referred to as the corona of the sun. The corona begins about 2,500 km above the surface and stretches out beyond the orbit of the earth. The corona changes it shape daily, in that some days, it swells up and shoots hot streamers of matter across millions of kilometers. It is through observing the corona that it has been proved that the sun has a powerful magnetic field. This is shown through photographs that show fanlike patterns of gas at opposite poles of the sun. This magnetic field is actually composed of thousands of small magnetic areas which force there way out of the sun and spread over it's surface. It is also in the corona where we find that the sun is composed mostly of hydrogen with some helium, as well as a few other elements. Due to the high temperatures on the sun, there are no whole atoms, since these high temperatures would cause them to smash together and break to bits. Individual pieces of these atoms swim about freely and make up a material called plasma. This plasma is blown off by the sun every day and this is what creates solar wind. Below the corona is the lower atmosphere of the sun, known as the chromosphere. This layer of the sun's atmosphere is visible during an eclipse, and it is seen as a thin, pink ring of light. The chromosphere is much denser than the corona as far as gas, but is almost completely void of material. The temperature in this layer...

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