The Sun is the largest and most important object in our solar system. Producing vast quantities of energy, life could not exist without its blanket of heat and light. The Sun’s importance to every aspect of human existence and endeavor in the past, now, and in the future is incalculable. So let’s take a look at nature’s power station. Let’s learn 101 facts about the Sun.
Fact 1: The Sun is a star. It’s exactly the same thing as the little twinkling lights you see up in the night sky. Except the Sun is far closer.
Fact 2: The Sun is the center of the solar system.
Fact 3: The Sun is a giant and near-perfect sphere of superheated plasma.
Fact 4: Light from the Sun takes 18 minutes and 19 seconds to reach the Earth.
Fact 5: The Sun produces its energy by fusing hydrogen into helium.
Fact 6: The Sun fuses 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium every second. 4 million tons of this is turned into pure energy. That’s the equivalent of turning 80 RMS Titanic’s into pure energy every second.
Fact 7: The energy the Sun creates can take over 100,000 years to escape from its core.
Fact 8: The Sun’s mass accounts for over 99.8% of the solar system’s total mass.
Fact 9: The Sun is, on average, 149,600,000 km away from the Earth. If you wanted to casually cycle there, in a spacesuit, of course, it would take you, at an average speed of 16 km/h, 1067 years to get there.
Fact 10: The Sun is roughly made of 73% hydrogen, 25% helium, and 2% of heavier elements such as iron, carbon, and oxygen.
Fact 11: Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun.
Fact 12: Pluto used to be the furthest planet from the Sun. But unfortunately, it was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006. This then made Neptune the furthest planet from the Sun.
Fact 13: Once the Sun has run out of hydrogen fuel it will expand into a red giant: a star that is nearly 300,000,000 km in diameter. That’s about the same size as the orbit of Earth around the Sun.
Fact 14: The Sun is located 28,000 light-years from the galaxy’s center.
Fact 15: The Sun is orbiting the Milky Way at a speed of 220 km/s.
Fact 16: The Sun’s equatorial diameter, or the width, is a massive 1,391,4000 km. This is 109 times the width of Earth.
Fact 17: The equatorial circumference of the Sun, the distance all the way around the Sun’s equator, is 4,379,000 km. That’s 109 times bigger than the Earth. If you tried to drive that distance, in a car traveling at a constant speed of 100 km/h, it would take you five years to do it.
Fact 18: The surface area of the Sun is 6.092×1012 km². Written out in full that Number looks like this: 6,090,000,000,000. That’s just over 6 trillion, yes trillion, square kilometers.
Fact 19: The Sun has 12,000 times more surface area than the Earth.
Fact 20: You could easily fit 1.3 million planet Earths inside the Sun.
Fact 21: You could easily fit all the planets of the solar system, plus all the moons and asteroids, inside the Sun.
Fact 22: The Sun’s density is four times less than the Earth’s density.
Fact 23: the Sun is total volume is 1.41×1018 km³. That number, written out, looks something like this: 1,410,000,000,000,000,000. That is 1.41 quintillion km³.
Fact 24: The core density of the Sun, at 162.2 g/cm3, is 12.5 times higher than Earth’s core.
Fact 25: The Sun’s surface gravity is 28 times stronger than on Earth. So a person that weighed 75 kg on Earth would weigh 2100 kg on the Sun’s surface.
Fact 26: The Sun’s escape velocity, the speed an unpowered object needs to achieve to escape the Sun’s gravity well, is 617.7 km/s at the surface. This is 2% of the speed of light.
Fact 27: The Sun has a tenuous outer atmosphere called the Corona.
Fact 28: The Corona, the Sun’s tenuous outer atmosphere, is normally invisible because of the glare from the Sun.
Fact 29: The Corona is usually only visible during a total solar eclipse.
Fact 30: The Corona, the Sun’s thin and invisible outer atmosphere, has a temperature of around 5,000,000°C. This is 1000 times hotter than the visible surface of the Sun. And scientists have no idea why it’s this hot.
Fact 31: The photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun, has a temperature of around 5500°C. That’s about 27 times hotter than the average kitchen oven.
Fact 32: The Sun’s core operates at a temperature of about 15.7oC.
Fact 33: The Sun is 4.6 billion years old.
Fact 34: It is thought that the Sun is brighter than 85% of all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
Fact 35: Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is about 13 billion times dimmer, as seen from Earth, than the Sun.
Fact 36: Nearly all life on earth depends on the Sun, either directly or indirectly, for energy.
Fact 37: Photosynthesis is the process used by plants to turn the suns light into usable forms of energy. Without photosynthesis we have no crops to eat, no animals, and no fossil fuels to burn. Though that last one might be a good thing.
Fact 38: The difference between the Sun’s equatorial diameter and it’s polar diameter is only 10 km. This means the Sun is a more perfect sphere than a soccer ball and, in some cases, even a pool ball.
Fact 39: The Sun is so wide it would take light, traveling at 300,000 km/s, four seconds to get directly from one side to the other.
Fact 40: Equatorial rotational period is 25.6 earth days long.
Fact 41: The Sun’s polar rotational period is 7.9 days longer than the equatorial rotational period at 33.5 days long.
Fact 42: The Solar constant is the amount of energy a given unit of area receives when exposed to direct sunlight.
Fact 43: The Solar constant on Earth’s surface, the amount of energy we receive from the Sun, is approximately 1000 W/m². Currently, our best solar power cells are able to collect between 10 to 12% of this energy. If we could quadrupole solar cell’s efficiency, houses could be powered with just 1 m² of solar panels.
Fact 44: The Sun was created from a giant cloud of gas and dust left over from previous generations of stars after they exploded and scattered their remaining material.
Fact 45: The Sun was born, and first started burning, after the molecular cloud it was created from collapsed under its own gravity until it was hot and dense enough to start nuclear fusion.
Fact 46: The amount of helium in the Sun’s core has increased over the past 4.6 billion years from 24% to 60%.
Fact 47: The Sun’s core makes up 25% of the Sun’s total diameter.
Fact 48: The main nuclear fusion process that synthesizes helium from hydrogen is called the P-P or proton-proton chain.
Fact 49: The Sun creates 0.8% of its energy from another fusion process called the CNO cycle.
Fact 50: The fusion rate within the core is a self balancing mechanism. Too little fusion means the core will collapse a little and create higher temperatures and pressures which leads to more fusion. Conversely, too much fusion pushes the outer layers out, decreasing pressure, and so slowing fusion down.
Fact 51: The Sun has a zone called the radiative zone that stretches from the core to 70% of the Sun’s diameter.
Fact 52: The density of the radiative zone in the Sun is 100 times less than the density of the core.
Fact 53: The Sun produces an extremely large envelope of atmosphere called the solar wind. This stretches well beyond the planet Neptune.
Fact 54: The solar wind is technically part of the Sun’s atmosphere. So the Earth, all the planets, me, and you, are actually living inside the Sun.
Fact 55: The Sun’s outermost atmosphere, the heliosphere, is made mostly of the solar wind.
Fact 56: Sunspots on the Sun’s surface follow an 11 year sunspot cycle
Fact 57: Sunspots appear black or dark because the temperature within them is 1000°C lower than the surrounding full temperature Sun surface. This creates a massive contrast between the normal Sun surface and the Sunspot’s surface. So your eyes see the Sunspot surface as black
Fact 58: The smallest sunspots are only 15 km across. That’s about the same size as a large city.
Fact 59: The largest sunspots can be 160,000 km across. That’s far larger than the diameter of the planet Jupiter.
Fact 60: The first ever historical mention of sunspots was in the Chinese book of changes in 800 BC.
Fact 61: The first historical mention of Sunspots in the western world was by Theophrastus, an ancient Greek scholar and philosopher, in 300 BC.
Fact 62: The first drawings of sunspots were made in December 1126 by an English monk who went by the name John of Worcester.
Fact 63: The Sun’s brightness is increasing at an average rate of 1% every 100 million years.
Fact 64: The Sun is currently halfway through its life.
Fact 65: The Sun will eventually expand to become a Red Giant star and it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and even Earth.
Fact 66: The Sun doesn’t have enough mass to explode as a supernova. Instead, it will end its life as a white dwarf.
Fact 67: The Sun is located in the Milky Way galaxy’s is Orion Arm.
Fact 68: It is thought that there are roughly 357 star systems within 32 light-years of the sun.
Fact 69: It is believed there are over 7,500 star systems within 81 light-years of the Sun. However, current technology has only been able to discover 2,600 of them.
Fact 70: The closest star of the Sun is the red dwarf Proxima Centauri. It is 4.2 light-years away.
Fact 71: Worship of the Sun has played a part in many civilisations throughout history.
Fact 72: The Sun was seen as a supernatural entity by many cultures across the globe.
Fact 73: In ancient Egypt the sun God was called Ra.
Fact 74: The ancient Greeks called their sun god Helios.
Fact 75: The Romans gave the Sun its own birthday. It was called ‘sol Invictus’ which means “unconquered sun”.
Fact 76: Ancient Greek astronomers once categorise the Sun as a planet.
Fact 77: The first scientific exploration for the Sun is thought to have been proposed by ancient Greek philosopher Anaxagoras. He believed the Sun was a giant molten ball of metal.
Fact 78: You would need to compress the Sun to a diameter of less than 6 km to turn it into a black hole.
Fact 79: If the Sun suddenly disappeared, the Earth would carry on hurtling through space in a straight line at 30 km/s until it encountered another large gravitational body.
Fact 80: If the Sun suddenly stopped shining, life would not have long to live. Within one week the average global temperature would drop to 0°C. Within a year, the average temperature would be -100°C and the oceans would have frozen over.
Fact 81: The idea that the Sun was the centre of the solar system was first proposed back in the third century BC by ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus of Samos.
Fact 82: The Sun’s light was first broken down into its individual colors by Isaac Newton in 1666.
Fact 83: At the moment of sunset or sunrise, the Sun can, under certain circumstances, create a green flash of light. This happens because the Earth’s atmosphere acts like a prism separating the light’s colors.
Fact 84: The solar system the Sun is at the centre of has many objects and features within it including eight planets, multiple dwarf planets, and billions of asteroids and comets.
Fact 85: The first space probes specifically designed to observe the Sun were NASA’s Pioneer six, seven, eight, and nine probes.
Fact 86: The Helios A and B space probes, that were designed to study the Sun, achieve the fastest ever speed by a man-made object. In orbit around the Sun, the Helios probes achieved a maximum speed of 70.2 km/s. To give you some idea of how stupendously fast that is, you could travel from London to New York, all 5567 km of the trip, in just 79 seconds.
Fact 87: The Helios probes that studied the Sun with a joint-venture between West Germany and the USA.
Fact 88: The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, is set to launch a small satellite to study the sun called Aditya in 2020.
Fact 89: After the Sun has died, and becomes a white dwarf, it will be about the same size as the Earth.
Fact 90: The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to all the planet’s orbits.
Fact 91: The aurora on Earth, and the other planets, are caused by the Sun’s Solar Winds interacting with their magnetic fields.
Fact 92: The Sun produces trillions of neutrinos every second. Neutrinos are small particles that hardly ever interact with normal matter.
Fact 93: Neutrinos account for 2% of the Sun’s total energy output.
Fact 94: It takes neutrinos just two seconds to escape the core of the Sun. Whereas it takes photons, particles of light, 100,000 years to escape.
Fact 95: Looking at the Sun directly can cause permanent blindness.
Fact 96: Ultraviolet light from the Sun has antiseptic properties.
Fact 97: The Sun often produces huge prominences called coronal mass ejections. These huge outbursts of mass often contain more mass than the Earth and can be wider than all the planets combined.
Fact 98: Solar storms, or geomagnetic storms, can destroy electrical equipment on Earth.
Fact 99: UV light from the Sun is vital for the production of vitamin D in the body.
Fact 100: A coronal mass ejection can reach speeds of up to 3200 km/s.
Fact 101: The largest recorded geomagnetic solar storm occurred on September 1st and 2nd, 1859. It was so powerful, the northern lights stretched as far south as Italy