The Sun

By Nathan Feggeler

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The Core

The core is the source of all the Sun's energy. The Sun's core has a very high temperature, more than 15 million degrees Kelvin, and the material in the core is very tightly packed or dense. It is a combination of these two properties that creates an environment just right for nuclear reactions to occur.

The Radiative Zone

the region surrounding the core of the Sun is known as the radiation zone. Energy, in the form of radiation, is transferred by its interaction with the surrounding atoms. The temperature is a little cooler than the core and as a result some atoms are able to remain intact. These intact atoms are able to absorb energy, store it , and then later emit that energy as new radiation.

The Convective Zone

When it is out of the radiation zone the energy, requires a new transport mechanism to continue its journey to the surface. The energy needs the new way of transportation because the temperature is cool, only 2 million degrees Kelvin as opposed to 5 million in the radiation zone. At this temperature the atoms will absorb energy, but because things are cool and dense the atoms do not release it so quickly.

The Photosphere

The photosphere is called the apparent surface of the Sun. Because the Sun is completely made of gas there is no hard surface. The photosphere is the disk you see in the sky when you look at the Sun through a filtered telescope or as a projection on a piece of paper. You should never look at the Sun directly, it could cause blindness.

The Chromospere

Above the photosphere is a layer of gas, approximately 2000 km thick, known as the chromosphere. In the chromosphere energy is transported by radiation. Hydrogen atoms absorb energy and most of the energy is then released as red light. The chromosphere is viewed by filtering out all other wavelengths from the Sun and only letting the red light from the chromosphere through.

The Corona

It is the outermost layer of the Sun. It gets its name from the crown like appearance evident during a total solar eclipse. The corona stretches far out into space. Particles from the corona reach the earth's orbit. The corona is very thin and faint and therefore can only be seen from earth during a total solar eclipse or by using a corona graph. The shape of the corona is mostly determined by the magnetic field of the Sun.

Sunspots

These continuously changing dark regions are called Sunspots. The spots appear dark to the eye because they are cooler than the surrounding gas. The photosphere has a temperature of about 5800 degrees Kelvin and a typical Sunspot has a temperature about 3500 degrees Kelvin.

Solar Prominence

A solar prominence is an arc of gas that erupts from the surface of the Sun. Prominences can loop hundreds of thousands of miles into space. Prominences are held above the Sun's surface by strong magnetic fields and can last for many months.

Solar Flare

A solar flare is a magnetic storm on the Sun which appears to be a very bright spot and a gaseous surface eruption. Solar flares release huge amounts of high-energy particles and gases and are tremendously hot. They are ejected thousands of miles from the surface of the Sun.

Aurora

This aurora display was due to a giant cloud of gas from the sun – a coronal mass ejection or CME – that collided with Earth's magnetic fields. This event set off, as it often does, what's called a geomagnetic storm. This is a kind of space weather event where the magnetic fields surrounding Earth compress and release. This oscillation is much like a spring moving back and forth, but unlike a spring, moving magnetic fields cause an unstable environment, setting charged particles moving and initiating electric currents.