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Our Sun

The Sun is the closest star to Earth. All of the planets in our solar system orbit around it. The Sun is very important for the Earth because it provides warmth and solar energy.

How Far is the Sun from the Earth?

In astronomy, scientists measure distances in terms of light years. One light year is how far light can move in one year. Light moves fast (300,000,000 meters per second!!) so this is really far!

The Sun is 92.96 MILLION miles away from the Earth! That is about .00001581 light years. For comparison, the Moon is only 238,900 miles away from the Earth.

It takes light 8 minutes to reach the Earth from the Sun. That means that when you look up at the Sun, you’re actually seeing what it looked like 8 minutes ago!

What is the Sun Made of?

All stars are made out of gas and plasma. The Sun consists mostly of hydrogen and helium. It also has some carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and small amounts of other gases.

In the center of the Sun, there is a process called nuclear fusion. During nuclear fusion, hydrogen atoms become helium. That means that the hydrogen is slowly being turned into helium.

An image of particles

Nuclear fusion is a process that happens at the atomic level.

How Hot is the Sun?

If you stand outside on a sunny day you will feel the warmth of the Sun. You might even get a sunburn if you stay out too long. That is because the Sun is really hot and gives off lots of UV rays.

It can get really hot on Earth in the summer, so just imagine how hot it gets closer to the Sun! At it’s surface, the temperature is 5,778 Kelvin! Remember, Kelvin is a unit of measurement that scientists use to measure temperature. 5,778 Kelvin is 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit.

A thermoneter pointing towards sun.

It would be impossible for you to go close to the surface of the Sun because it would be way too hot!

It gets even hotter on the inside. At its core, it can reach 27 MILLION degrees Fahrenheit! Where does all this heat come from? The nuclear fusion that happens in the center of a star releases lots and lots of energy. This energy releases as heat and is what makes stars so hot.

One thing to note is that the temperature of the Sun isn’t the same everywhere on the surface. Some parts are slightly cooler than others. These are called sunspots.

How Big is the Sun?

Compared to other stars, the Sun is medium-sized. It has a radius of 432,450 miles. You could fit about 1 million Earths inside of it!

Sun versus the planets.

Compare the sun to all the planets in our solar system. The Earth just looks like a tiny dot!

What Type of Star is it?

Astronomers classify stars based on the Morgan-Keenan system. In this system, stars are assigned a letter: O, B, A, F, G, K, or M. Stars are grouped into these classes based on their color and/or temperature.

The Sun is a class G star. These types of stars are relatively common. They are yellow to white and have temperatures between 5,200 K and 6,000 K. Other class G stars include 61 Virginis and 47 Usra Majoris.

Click here to learn even more about our sun. Additionally, here’s a whole video on it:

Other Great Resources

National Geographic Overview:

How Hot is the Sun:

More Facts:

Written By: Leah Tolby.