Life on Earth is because of sun’s energy and is very important for our survival. Sun is a star and is the nearest one to Earth. It is the perfect sphere in nature and we do not know anything as perfect in sphere than sun. It is burning out hydrogen from the very day it was born and will continue to burn for another 130 million years. The huge star is at the center of the solar system where all the other planets are revolving it. Sun contains 99.8% of all the mass in the solar system. Throughout history, sun has been worshiped and feared for its strange behaviors. Though we see sun daily, many things about sun is still a mystery. Here we have collected some of the most intriguing and amazing facts about sun for improving our knowledge.
The list of ten amazing facts about sun some of which are unknown:
10. Every 11 years, the Sun’s Magnetic Field Flips
Scientists from NASA say that every 11 years, sun flips its magnetic field, meaning the North and South Pole essentially switch. This happens when the sun reaches its solar maximum, sun’s period of greatest activity. At this point, the sun’s magnetic field weakens and reach zero, then they flip polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle. It is a big event. When this event takes place, the magnetic influence known as heliosphere extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. This event spikes in solar flares and sun spots. The flip in the sun’s polarity needs more research. There are theories explaining this phenomenon but none could be considered as perfect and accurate.
9. Space Tornadoes Power the Sun’s Atmosphere
The space tornadoes are powerful tornadoes on the surface of the sun. They are similar to the ones on the Earth’s surface but are thousands of times larger and powerful. They have a magnetic skeleton that spin at a speed of 6,000 mph at temperatures in millions of centigrade. These monstrous tornadoes are 1,000 miles wide and 100s of miles long. At any given time, around 11,000 tornadoes events happen on the surface of the sun. These are highly magnetic and operate in plasma.
The solar tornadoes are responsible for carrying energy from the sun’s underneath to the surface. The energy is sent in the form of magnetic waves. According to researchers and scientists, if we understand how these magnetized plasma receives heat, we will be able develop technologies that can produce free, clean and green energy.
8. Magnetic Field of Sun is 3,000 Times Stronger Than Earth’s
The sun’s magnetic field is only twice as strong as our Earth, but can become highly concentrated in small areas, reaching a powerful magnetic strength of 3,000 times to that of Earth. This phenomenon happens because sun spins faster at the equator than at the higher latitudes. Another reason is that the sun’s inner region rotates faster than its surface. Such distortions create sun spots and flares. Flares are more violent due to the release of strong magnetic field from the sun. The flares are so violent that a single ejection throws up to roughly 20 billion tons of matter into space.
There are few theories that explain the creation of magnetic field in the sun, but we still don’t have a definitive proof. One such proof is the movement of plasma in the sun. According to researches, we conclude that the power of sun’s magnetic field is enormous.
7. Sun is Travelling at 220 km/s
Just like our Earth, sun is moving. Sun orbits at an incredible speed of 220 km per second. Sun is orbiting the galaxy at a speed of approximately 828,000 km/hr. or 490,000 mph. This was discovered using a radio telescope system which can measure celestial distances 500 times more accurately than the Hubble Space Telescope. It was found that sun was orbiting the Milky Way at a very high-speed. Another interesting thing is that sun has completed only 20 orbits since our solar system was formed. For each orbit, the sun has traveled a distance of nearly 150,000 light years. The sun orbits around the galactic center and it takes around 225 million years for each orbit.
6. Since the Dawn of Humans, Sun has Completed Only 1/1250th of its Orbit
Since the birth of sun, it has only completed 18-20 orbits of the Milky Way. The sun takes 230 million years to complete one orbit. But, since the origin of humans, the sun has only finished 1/1250th of its orbit. We already know that sun travels at a speed of 220 km/s or approximately 828,000 km/hr. With that speed, it would take the entire solar system 1,400 years to travel one light year. The diameter of Milky Way is 100,000 light-years. That’s a lot of time until the sun and other planets in the solar system will be completing one orbit. Another interesting fact about the sun and our galaxy is the distance between sun and the Galactic Center – sun is 28,000 light-years from the Galactic Center. The last time the sun was at the current position, dinosaurs were roaming our Earth.
5. Without the Sun, Earth Would Travel in a Straight Line
Sun is very important for life on Earth. The sun is responsible for many things that happen on Earth. One such event is the Earth’s motion. The sun’s magnetic field keeps the Earth and the other planets around the sun’s orbit. If the sun disappears suddenly, all the planets including Earth would continue the forward motion, flying in a straight line into the outer space. Nobody can exactly tell what can really happen if sun disappears. The above theory is according to Newton’s law. Since other celestial objects have gravity, the Earth might move in different directions but will continue to orbit the galactic center. It is also possible for the Earth and other planets to join another star and orbit that star.
4. Sun will Swallow Earth One Day
There are several ways apocalypse is evident to Earth. One such way is the sun engulfing Earth. The age of sun is 4.6 billion years old and hasn’t changed since then. The sun could live up to another 5 billion years. Hence, we can conclude that our sun is a young star. While the sun is finishing its full age, the sun will expand slowly and become a red giant. During this process, the sun will be large enough to engulf Mercury, Venus and Earth. If the Earth hasn’t been engulfed, at least our world will be left uninhabitable. After the sun expands, it will shine 3,000 times brighter. In the final fate of sun, the red giant will collapse into a white dwarf.
3. Heat from Center of the Sun Takes 1 Million Years to Reach the Surface
The heat or light from the sun just takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth. But, the heat from center of the sun’s core takes about 1 million years to reach its surface. The distance between the core and the sun’s surface is 700,000 km. The heat or photon particles created at the center of the core would just take 2.3 seconds to escape if it traveled at the speed of light. The reason for its slow is due to their interaction with sun’s dense physical matter.
The photons move within the sun in a process known as “random walk”. Here, the photons are unable to move far because of the dense packing of matter in the sun. They hit an atom; they are absorbed and then re-emitted in a random direction. This event is a mathematical hypothesis and there are still confusions among scientists regarding the exact time-frame by which the heat will escape to the surface.
2. To Our Eyes, in Space, the Sun Would Appear White, Not Yellow
We wrongly believe that sun is yellow or red or orange. The sun is actually a mixture of all colors and appears white to our eyes from space. The sun’s color from Earth is due to a phenomenon known as . Our eye is able to detect colors only in the visible spectrum, but sun’s radiation spans the entire electromagnetic spectrum. From the outer space, we do not have Earth’s atmosphere to scatter light belonging to the spectrum of visible light. Even at the surface of the Earth, sun appears white.
To prove this from Earth, you need to take a white paper on a really sunny day. The white paper will appear white and not yellow or any other color from the sun. This indicates essentially that sun is white.
1. Every Second Sun Produces the Same Energy as ~10 Billion Nuclear Bombs
Sun is a huge and powerful nuclear reactor. We will never be able to make a nuclear reactor as good as our sun. Every second, sun consumes 600 million tons of hydrogen. Every second, sun produces energy of about 90 billion megatons from nuclear fusion (4×10^33 ergs). The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki only add up to 0.035 megatons of energy. Today’s most powerful one megaton nuclear bomb can produce energy of around 4 x 10^22 ergs. If you do a math, sun can produce exploding energy of over 90 billion one-megaton nuclear bombs from nuclear fusion every second. From the past 4.6 billion years, sun has been producing that much of energy and is going to produce the same amount of energy for the next 5 billion years.