Last Reviewed and Updated on June 17, 2022
The Sun plays a very important part in our lives. It heats the earth, provides light and life to most of our planet, and produces so much energy that we could never use it all up. But how much do you actually know about this star in the sky? Browse through these interesting facts about the Sun.
1. The Sun is a star at the center of our Solar System
We are kicking off our list of facts about the Sun that hasn’t always been known, it is placed in the center of our solar system. All of the planets and most of the other objects in our solar system orbit around it.
It was once believed the Sun revolves around the Earth. Cheers to the progress of science!
2. It’s the largest object in our solar system
Sun is by far the largest object in our solar system by size and it is also the biggest by mass.
Jupiter is the second-largest object. The radius of Jupiter is 10 times smaller than that of the Sun.
3. Its volume is that of about 1.3 million Earths
You could fit about 1.3 million Earths inside the Sun. That is a whole lot. The volume of the sun is 1.4 x 1018 cubic kilometers, while the volume of the Earth is about 1.1 x 1012 cubic kilometers.
It also weighs about 333.300 times more than the Earth does.
If you would put them side by side the sun would look like a basketball ball and the Earth would still be smaller than a small marble. The difference in size is really staggering.
4. Suns gravity keeps the solar system together
The basic reason for the planets and many other astronomical objects in our solar system revolving around the Sun is the Sun’s gravity.
Are you wondering why the planets and other objects don’t just get pulled into the Sun by its gravity if it’s so strong? Well, it’s because all objects in their essence move forward. Their forward moving direction and the velocity at which they move to resist the Sun’s gravity pulling them toward the Sun. Sun’s gravity is just strong enough to keep them in their orbit.
5. The temperature in the core of the sun is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit / 15 million degrees Celsius
The temperature of Earth’s core fades in comparison as the temperature sits at only about 9.392° Fahrenheit / 5.200° Celsius.
Sun’s core is extremely hot.
As it is impossible to physically measure the temperature of the Sun’s core you may be left wondering how did scientists get the temperature of its core. The temperature of the core is measured by mathematical models taking into account the emitted light and its properties.
6. Its surface is a lot cooler, with temperatures reaching “only” about 10.000F / 5.500C according to NASA
The temperature of Earth’s surface again fades in comparison, being only about 57 degrees Fahrenheit / 14 degrees celsius (2020).
7. It is a ball of plasma
The Sun is neither solid, liquid nor gas. It’s in the state of plasma.
Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, this state is set apart from other states by a significant presence of charged particles (ions and electrons).
Other examples of things that are in this state of matter are lightning and aurorae.
8. It is the source of life on Earth
There would be no life on Earth without the energy of the sun.
From the ground up, plants require the sun to grow and produce oxygen.
Without the heat, the Earth would be a cold ball of ice. These are just two simple examples.
9. It’s mostly composed of hydrogen and helium
It is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen accounts for 74.9% of its composition and helium 23.8%.
2% of its mass are metals and the rest are other elements.
As the stars go through their life cycle, their composition changes, but it will be a long time before there will be significant changes.
10. The Moon shines because of the Sun
The Moon doesn’t emit light on its own, it reflects the light from the Sun.
11. The Sun accounts for about 99.85% of the mass in our solar system
One of the more fascinating facts about the sun is its size compared to other objects in our solar system. If you would take all the planets from our solar system, all the moons, and satellites, all meteors, all the dwarf planets (hello Pluto), all the specks and dust… It would still only account for 0.15% of the total mass of our Solar system with the rest 99.85% going to the Sun.
12. The Sun is currently growing
All stars go through various stages in their life cycle and our Sun is currently at the stage where it’s growing in size.
It is slowly expanding and becoming brighter, and during its lifetime it will eventually engulf Earth (but don’t worry, it this won’t happen for a few billion years).
13. It takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the light from the sun to reach the Earth
The distance between the Sun and the Earth is so grand it takes something as fast as light 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel it.
If the Sun would disappear (which can’t happen), you would still see it for 8 minutes and 20 seconds before everything would go dark.
14. The Sun is halfway through its life cycle
It is estimated our sun is 4.603 billion years old and it is estimated it has about 5 billion years left before it eventually runs out of hydrogen and will start to collapse under its own weight.
Supernova? Nope. Astronomers believe our Sun isn’t big enough to become a supernova at the end of itS life cycle.
15. Our sun is a yellow dwarf
There are quite a few star classifications and our Sun is called a yellow dwarf.
They are classified according to their size, color, and brightness. The color part of classification isn’t exactly objective, for example, the yellow dwarf’s colors can vary greatly from white to yellow.
16. It rotates quicker on its equator than it does at its poles
If you look at the Earth, the speed at which it rotates is different depending on the latitude, but the rotation is done in 24 hours, no matter the latitude (the rotation around the axis is done in 24 hours all over the planet).
With Sun, however, things are a bit more complex. As with the Earth, the speed varies but unlike Earth, the rotation isn’t uniform across the Sun. The equator for example will rotate around its axis in about 25 (Earth) days while the polar regions of the Sun take over 30 days to complete a rotation around the axis. Now if has to be one of the more fascinating facts about the Sun.
17. It burns in a bright white color
One of the more interesting facts about the sun is that it doesn’t burn yellow. The sun emits all colors evenly, which we would normally perceive as white color. And if you would be able to observe the sun from space, it would indeed shine white.
We see the sun as yellow (or orange and even red) because some of the short-wavelength colors (green, blue, violet) are scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere. Now the previously white light has slightly more colors with the longest wavelengths (red, orange, yellow), and this is the light that hits our eyes.
18. Sun’s corona can only be seen during a total solar eclipse
The Sun has an outmost atmosphere called a corona. Like the sun, the corona is made out of plasma. It extends millions of kilometers from the Sun and into space but can’t be seen with the naked eye.
It can however be observed during a total solar eclipse.
19. Solar flares can disrupt satellite communications and knock out power on Earth
These brief and sudden eruptions of high-energy radiations from the sun’s surface have an effect on Earth.
The solar storm of August 1972 was a series of powerful storms with some extreme solar flares. The flares caused widespread communication grid disturbances through large portions of North America and many satellite disruptions.
20. Solar flares obey an 11-year cycle
About every 11 years the sun’s magnetic field flips the poles to switch places. The switching of poles isn’t a gradual process lasting for 11 years, the flip happens at the peak of the 11-year cycle. The buildup to the peak is gradual though.
Solar flares follow the same cycle on average. As the cycle progresses and goes towards its peak, the intensity of solar flares (and storms) increases. After the peak, the activity decreases again.
21. Many ancient civilizations worshiped the sun as a God
With the sun being such an important part of our lives it comes as no surprise it was worshiped by many ancient civilizations across the globe. Fascinating. This concludes our list of facts about the sun.