Shop Windows to the Universe

Young Voices for the Planet DVD in our online store includes 8 films where students speak out and take action on climate change.
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

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.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

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

Diagnostics for the Solar Interior

The Sun releases energy. This energy is made in the center of the Sun. But we can't see past the surface of the Sun. So how do we know how this energy is made? Well, scientists use diagnostics to figure...more

The Sun's Radiative Zone

Text for this level has not been written yet. Please see the "Intermediate" text for this page if you want to learn about this topic. To get to the "Intermediate" text, click on the blue "Intermediate"...more

High Altitude Observatory

Scientists at the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) try to learn about the changes we see in the Sun over time. They also study how it affects the atmosphere of the Earth. There are four main areas of study...more


The Sun acts like it has a big magnet in the middle of it. We call this the Sun's magnetic field. The Sun's magnetic field has a fancier name, the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF). This just means that...more

Coronal Mass Ejections

Have you ever seen an explosion before? Maybe you've seen a volcano explode on t.v. Or maybe you've seen a potato explode in the microwave because your mom forgot to poke holes in it. Well, explosions...more

Solar Activity

The Sun is not a quiet place, but one that exhibits sudden releases of energy. One of the most frequently observed events are solar flares: sudden, localized, transient increases in brightness that occur...more

The Solar Atmosphere

The visible solar atmosphere consists of three regions: the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the solar corona. Most of the visible (white) light comes from the photosphere, this is the part of the Sun...more

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