Which celestial body is so big, that 1.3 million Earths would fit inside of it?
And the answer: The Sun.
The Sun is so big it makes up almost 99.9% of the mass of our entire solar system. Large planets like Jupiter and Saturn make up most of the rest. The Sun is a star like the billions of others in our galaxy, with a lifespan of about 10 billion years.
The Sun continues to occupy a scientific, spiritual, and even religious space in our lives as humans. It has been the reference point for calendars, dedicated to entire gods, and the source of ancient worship. It allows plants to photosynthesize, creates a viable atmosphere for life, and continues to sustain growth on our precious planet as it has for millennia. It is, quite literally, the binding keeping our solar system together. The Sun is the original source of energy for all life on this planet, and has made way for human life today and all life which has preceded us. Few may dare to doubt the immense power of our solar system's star.
Here are five facts you may not know about the Sun:
- Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius. Yes, you read that right. Celsius.
- The Sun can generate solar winds. The sun has an angry tendency of ejecting plasma (which are extremely hot, charged particles) across the solar system. They can travel at up to 450 kilometers per second.
- The beautiful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is caused by interactions between solar winds and the Earth's atmosphere.
- The Sun is all the colors mixed together, which is why it appears white to our eyes. Gorgeous pink, orange and red sunsets you've seen all over Instagram are simply the effect of short-wavelength colors (green, blue and violet) being scattered too thinly across the atmosphere for visible sight. Pink, orange and red have the longest wavelengths and are the most effective at getting through the Earth's thick atmosphere.
- The Sun will one day be the size of the Earth. At the end of its life (in approximately 5 billion more years), the Sun will grow to become what's known as a "Red Giant"– approximately 200x larger than its current radius. It will become hot enough for a chemical reaction to take place between carbon and helium, and the reaction will create intense solar wind that disperses its heat and energy. Ultimately, only the carbon core will remain, and it will cease to omit energy.
Check out this video to learn more: