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Schematic view of the inner structure of the Sun
Click on image for full size and a more detailed image of the interior of the Sun
NASA

The Solar Interior

To understand how our Sun works, it helps to imagine that the inside of the Sun is made up of different layers, one inside the other. The center of the Sun is called the core. It is the region where the energy of the Sun is produced. We know that the Sun produces energy because we feel hot on a summer day.

The Sun's energy travels outwards from the core. The energy travels first through the radiative zone, where particles of light carry the energy. It takes millions of years for the energy to move to the next layer, the convection zone.

At the convection zone, energy travels faster. This time it is the motion of the gases in the Sun that moves the energy outwards. The gas at this layer mixes and bubbles, like the motion in a pot of boiling water.This bubbling effect is seen on the surface of the Sun.

We can't see inside the Sun. So scientists use other diagnostics. These diagnostics help us know what is inside the Sun.


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The Convection Zone

The convection zone is farther away from the Sun's core than the the radiative zone. At this point convective motions occur. This is like the motion of water that is boiling. These bubbling motions inside...more

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The Sun's Radiative Zone

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High Altitude Observatory

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The Solar Atmosphere

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA