Thursday, January 6, 2011

How the Sun Works

Author’s Note: I had a science essay due and I decided to do it on the sun because I thought it was an interesting topic that I have not learned much about.  
The sun has been shining bright out into the solar system for 4.6 billion years!  How could it possibly last that long without burning out?  There were a couple different theories, but Albert Einstein was the man who figured it out.  

The sun is an important part of our solar system.  It provides light and heat to meet our essential needs.  The sun’s mass is over 99% of the mass of the solar system.  The circumference of the sun is approximately 2,720,960 miles.  Basically, the sun is a big, hot ball made up of gases and layers.

The sun is made up of a large variety of gases.  The gases are as listed from most to least: hydrogen (73.46%), helium (24.85%), oxygen (0.77%), carbon (0.29%), iron (0.16%), sulfur (0.12%), neon (0.12%), nitrogen (0.09%), silicon (0.07%), and magnesium (0.05%).  When some of these gases are mixed together or fused, they will create something new and make energy for the sun.

The mixing together of the different gases contributes to the creation of separate layers.  The sun is made up of different layers, in which each layer plays a different role.  The one thing each layer has in common is energy moving through them and to the next layer until it reaches the surface.  First, there is the core, which is the innermost part of the sun and where energy is formed.    Next, is the radiative zone where the energy from the core moves by waves, also known as radiation.  The convective zone is third.  In the convective zone gases move in a circular motion also known as a convection, hence convective zone.  Following that is the photosphere.  This is where energy is turned into light which will shine on Earth.  This is the only layer that is visible from Earth, unless there is an eclipse.  In fact, photosphere means light ball in Greek.  The chromosphere is the fifth layer of the sun.  When a total eclipse happens, the chromosphere is one part of the sun that can be faintly seen.  Lastly, is the outermost part of the sun: the corona.  Like the chromosphere, the corona can be seen in a total eclipse.  Instead of a little ring, the corona will create a thick crown around the sun.  
Before the energy makes it through all of the layers, there is energy forming in the center of the sun.  Albert Einstein answered how the sun lasts without burning out.  The process is called nuclear fusion in which two or more nuclei (plural for nucleus) fuse or unite forming another nucleus.  During nuclear fusion, energy is produced in the center of the sun, and that is the source of the sun’s energy.  For instance, if four hydrogen nuclei unite, then it can fuse which creates one nucleus of helium.  Then, the energy from the fusion will be sent through the layers of the sun, which keeps the sun burning.  This process takes over one million years!
The sun is an important and elaborate part of our solar system.  All of the energy that is needed to keep us alive has to go through years of a complex process and numerous layers.  With Albert Einstein’s discovery, we have a better understanding of how the sun functions.
"NASA - Sun." NASA - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2010. <>.
Astronomy . Austin: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 2007. Print.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Job! I liked how you talked about more than just how the sun gets it's energy, like the layers and what it is made of. Now I have a better understanding of the sun. It was really nice to look at your and see that they are a lot alike after I wrote mine.