Sun Facts – Top 6 Interesting Facts About The Sun

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A mesmerizing view of a sunrise in the land of Uttarakhand, India/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The mysteries about the sun – the only star in our solar system will always be a riddle to be solved. From the dawn of human civilization on earth, our ancestors knew the importance of the sun for our livelihood. I mean, without the energy we get through sunlight; life on earth will cease to exist. Suppose, just a day after tomorrow; the sun just vanishes from the sky. Can you imagine what will happen to us?

Oh boy, I don’t want to scare you or anybody. Don’t worry it won’t happen any time soon. But I can assure you that it will happen one day, not today, not tomorrow, not after week or year; but surely someday. I will also discuss this one of the bizarre facts about the sun in the later section. So just sit tight. And enjoy the ride….!!!

Well, I could have picked 10 facts about the sun or even more, but out of all of those, I will give you the MIND-BOGGLING Top 6 Interesting Facts About The Sun; handpicked by me. I hope you will like my collection.

  1. How Did The Sun Get Its Name?
  2. The Sun Is Tidally-Locked With Mercury.
  3. What Is The Sun Made Of?
  4. How Old Is The Sun?
  5. Sun Won’t Become A Black Hole.
  6. Once The Sun Was Not The Center Of The Solar System.

 

How Did The Sun Get Its Name?

For different civilizations, the sun in space has been called by different names. Surprisingly, whatever name the sun gets, its meaning never changes. I will tell you how. Well, as I hail from India. So at first, I will give an explanation as per the Indian perspective on how did the sun get its name. According to the sacred Indian scriptures, in Sanskrit; the word sun is equivalent to Surya. And as per Indian culture, Surya is the solar deity.

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Konark Sun Temple – devoted to the worshipping of Surya Dev (Sun God)/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, If you know about yoga, there is a proper exercise named “Surya namaskar” especially devoted to Lord Surya or simply Surya Dev. The word Surya symbolizes the one who empowers knowledge, the god of justice, and simply the dispeller of darkness. If I talk about ancient Sumerians, they identified the sun with Utu – the god of justice. In fact, he was also the twin brother of goddess Innana – the goddess of planet venus. to know more venus facts, you can check this article.

In a similar fashion, ancient Egyptian people worshiped the sun as the god Ra – god of the sun, kings, and, the sky. If I talk about modern times, the word sun is derived from an old English word called SUNNE. Surprisingly, Sunday or Ravivaar (Ravi is a synonym of Surya and vaar is a day) is also regarded as the day of the sun (Surya).

 

The Sun Is Tidally-Locked With Mercury

The next in line of my top 6 interesting facts about the sun is that the sun is tidally-locked with mercury. Yup, you heard me right. Seriously, I am not lying to you. Trust me. Okay, check it on google if you don’t believe in me. The sun is tidally-locked with mercury in a similar fashion our earth and moon are tidally-locked with each other. Oh boy, you don’t know that. Okay, you can check this article to know more about tidal locking or synchronous rotation and its drawbacks.

According to the research papers published by the scientific community; just because the sun is tidally-locked with mercury, the grey planet does not have an atmosphere of its own. It’s so sad. To know more interesting facts about mercury, you can check this article.

 

What Is The Sun Made Of?

The sun – an almost perfect sphere of super-hot plasma is principally made up of hydrogen and helium. Though, there are other metals too; that constitute to the composition of the sun. But their presence is almost negligible as compared to the availability of hydrogen and helium. If I talk in terms of the percentage-wise composition of the sun, the hydrogen accounts for a whopping 74.9 percent of the mass of the sun.

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just because of the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, we are getting sunlight to survive on earth/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, helium accounts for 23.8 percent of the mass of the sun. In total, hydrogen, and helium (lighter elements) account for 98.7 percent of the sun’s mass. MIND-BLOWN. And all the other elements (heavy elements) like carbon, neon, oxygen, iron, etc, compositely accounts for less than 1.3 percent of the mass of the sun. Well, in terms of atoms, the sun is made up of 91 percent of hydrogen and 8.9 percent of helium.

 

How Old Is The Sun?

The next one in the line of my list of Top 6 interesting facts about the sun is how old is the sun? Ahmm, any guess….!!!! If I talk in terms of human perception of years; our sun is like a middle-aged guy. Or in other words, I can say that currently, the sun is in its prime. According to the big bang theory, our sun is approximately 4.6 billion years old.

Surprisingly, if I compare the age of sun with the age of universe i.e 13.8 billion years; The sun was born when the universe was itself 9.2 billion years old. Meaning, at that time, the universe was cooling rapidly. Therefore it was the perfect time for the formation of a star. The principle behind the formation of a star is actually quite simple and easy to understand.

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Hubble telescope image known as Pillars of Creation, where stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula/Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

See, when interstellar gas cloud, or simply a giant nebula collapse under its own gravity, a star is born. Obviously, in our case, the sun is born. As a result of the gravitational collapse of the giant nebula, the core of the remnant nebula’s temperature surpasses the threshold required to trigger the nuclear fusion reaction. Hence a star is born.

In fact, you would be baffled to know that the temperature required to trigger the nuclear reaction is more than 15 million kelvin. MIND-BLOWN. Well, whatever is born, must die someday. And with that, I have reached the point where I can talk about the death of a star.

 

Sun Won’t Become A Black Hole

Yup. It’s true. I am neither joking nor lying. Its 100 percent verified truth that the sun won’t become a black hole. But I am rather sure that the sun will eventually become a white dwarf. I will tell you why…!!! It’s solely because of its mass. Yup. Again, you heard me right. Well, in my view, physics is not as hard as it seems to be. See, the funda is quite clear.

For a star to become a black hole, its mass should be above 29.0 solar masses. Similarly, for a star to become a neutron star, its mass should be in the range of 10.0 to 29.0 solar masses. At last, for a star to become a dwarf star, its mass should be in the range of 0.07 to 10.0 solar masses. And we know that the mass of the sun is 1 solar mass. If you don’t, find it out and tell me in the comment section.

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an artistic representation of a supermassive black hole that our sun will never become because of its small size/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

So from the above classification, now it is clear that the sun comes in the category of becoming a dwarf star (of course, after its nuclear fuel is exhausted). But the problem is that there are so many different types of dwarf stars like a white dwarf, yellow dwarf, red dwarf, brown dwarf, and the hypothetical black dwarf. So how we are gonna know that what’s the final fate of the sun when it will eventually run out of its nuclear fuel.

Well, I can’t explain each and every detail about the journey of a star to a white dwarf. you can read this article for a detailed explanation. Here I will give you a short and crisp explanation. See, for a star to be called a star, it should be able to execute nuclear fusion reaction in its core. Currently, the sun comes in the category of the main-sequence star or G-type main-sequence star. Meaning currently it is fusing hydrogen into helium in its core. When the sun will run out of its hydrogen fuel, it will start to fuse helium into heavy elements via the triple-alpha process.

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A white Dwarf During its formation period/Credit: NASA

Due to the exponential increase in core’s temperature; the sun will expand enough to consume all the terrestrial planets including earth; becoming a giant red dwarf. Finally, when the sun will eventually run out of its helium fuel, the sun’s outer layer of helium and hydrogen will blast off into a supernova; leaving behind a tiny white dwarf. But you don’t need to worry. I mean, it will take more than 5 billion years from now for the sun to become a white dwarf. So chill. Plus one more thing. At this instant, the sun is a type of yellow dwarf.

 

Once The Sun Was Not The Center Of The Solar System

The last one in the line of my top 6 interesting facts about the sun is that once the sun was not the center of the solar system. I think I confused you here. Okay. Let me explain. As per the current cosmological model of the universe; we are living in the heliocentric model of the universe. But there was a time before the Copernican revolution or so-called scientific revolution; when the whole world believed in the geocentric model of the universe or solar system.

Aristotelian Universe
An artistic representation of the 15th-century model of the universe heavily influenced by Aristotle Model of the Universe/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Meaning earth was the center of the solar system, not sun. In Aristotle model of the universe or so-called flat earth theory, the earth was believed to be the center of the universe, and all the stars, planets, sun, and all the heavenly bodies revolve around the earth. But after the arrival of the heliocentric model of the solar system; the geocentric model became one of the so many obsolete cosmological theories of the universe. Apart from an Aristotelean geocentric universe, there are so many cosmological theories of the universe that has become obsolete now. You can read this article for further knowledge about the obsolete cosmological theories of the universe.

Apart from the above-mentioned top 6 interesting facts about the sun, I am mentioning some more common information about the sun below.

  1. The sun accounts for 99.86 percent of the mass of the solar system.
  2. Over one million earth could easily fit inside the sun.
  3. Light from the Sun takes approximately 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth.
  4. The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to Earth.
  5. The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator compared to its poles.
  6. The distance between the Sun and the Earth changes throughout the year.
  7. So on….!!!

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