## 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.

# Quickie Questions - Fun with the Sun - Interior/Surface

March 27, 2001 Joyce (11, Canada) What are the main areas of the Sun? The main parts of the Sun (from the inside out) are the core, radiation zone, convection zone, the photosphere, chromosphere and corona.
June 15, 2000 Kristen (age 12, Canada ) What kind of star is the sun classified as? The Sun is a yellow, main sequence star of class G2 V.
April 18, 2000 Carrie (age 15, Illinois, USA) At what rate [in watts] is energy produced by the sun? The sun produces energy at the rate of 3.86e33 ergs/second or 386 billion billion megawatts.
July 8, 1999 Ashley (age 11, Canada) How many Earths could fit in the Sun? Over 1.3 million Earths could fit inside of the Sun. The Sun actually contains about 99% of the mass in the solar system, so it makes sense. It still blows me away every time I think about it though.
May 25, 1999 Yan (age 13, Texas, USA) In our sun, the nuclei of hydrogen atoms combine to form helium atoms. Where do the electrons go? The electrons are thrown out into space. They become part of the solar wind.
May 25, 1999 Alejandra I've collected several different data about pressure of the Sun's core and I don't know which is the correct. Could you help me? The pressure inside the Sun is always different because we can't measure it! Scientists use equations to calculate the approximate value, but we can't measure it directly. In order to calculate the pressure, scientists need the temperature and the density, which are also approximated! Maybe some day we will have a consensus as to the true pressure. One of my favorite books gives a value of 3.4e11 atmospheres.
February 6, 1999 Jodi (age 13, Indiana, USA) What is fusion reaction? I'm doing a project on Star Trek, and the impulse engine is based on fusion reaction, so what is it? This page will help.
January 5, 1999 Alejandra (age 15) Why do coronal mass ejections occur? What causes the Sun to eject a CME? In other words, how does it all start? Coronal mass ejections are driven by the energy released from the Sun's magnetic field. You see, it is believed that the Sun's magnetic field gets twisted or bunched up. When it gets too twisted, sometimes it forces itself free. This releases energy that ejects material off of the Sun. This event is called a coronal mass ejection or a CME.
November 9, 1998 Valen (age 9, Pennsylvania, USA) How many Sun Spots are there? The number of sunspots varies from year to year. You'll find that near a solar maximum, the number for that year will be over 100. During a solar minimum, you'll find under 15! In 1989, the last solar maximum, there were 158 sunspots.
October 7, 1998 Brianne(Age 10, Pennsylvania, USA) How bad are storms on the sun? The study of how bad storms are on the Sun is called spaceweather. If a storm is really big, it can have quite an effect on the Earth!
August 28, 1998 Stephanie (Age 15, California, USA) Is is true that there are tornadoes on the Sun? Because it makes sense if they form clouds of gas because that's where tornadoes come from, clouds! It seems there are tornadoes on the Sun--check this out!
May 8, 1998 Abhinav (age 6, Thane, India) On which side of the Sun are the sun spots? Well, sunspots are found on all sides of the Sun. They move with the Sun as the Sun rotates. Very often, sunspots are found near the middle of the Sun (around the equator). Don't look directly at the Sun to see this though - it can hurt your eyes!
March 31, 1998 Lauren (age 24, Virginia, USA) Can you give a description of the surface of the Sun? The photosphere looks somewhat boring at first glance: a disk with some dark spots. However, these sunspots are the site of strong magnetic fields. Also, if yo u look closely, you can see granulation on the surface of the Sun. This happens because of the tremendous heat coming from the solar core. The solar interior below the photosphere (the convection zone) bubble s like a pot of boiling water. The bubbles of hot material welling up from below are seen at the photosphere, as slightly brighter regions. Darker regions occur where cooler plasma is sinking to the interior.
December 2, 1997 Kard (age 12) How many elements are there? What is nuclear fusion? There are currently 112 elements in the periodic table.

Nuclear fusion is the process in which 2 atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier element. This type of reaction releases huge amounts of energy. The most common fusion reaction occurs on the Sun in which hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium. If scientists can figure out a safe and efficient way to carry out fusion reactions Earth, this would provide us a sustainable and clean source of energy for hundreds of years to come.

November 26, 1997 Christie (age 12, Louisiana, USA) What is the Sun made of? The Sun is about 75% Hydrogen and 25% Helium by mass. All of the other elements found in the Sun take up only .1% of the Sun's mass.

#### Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

## 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 core, or the center of the Sun, is the region where the energy...more

## The Chromosphere

Above the photosphere is the chromosphere, a region about 2500 kilometers thick. Just prior to and just after the peak of a total solar eclipse , the chromosphere appears as a thin reddish ring. The conspicuous...more

## Fusion Reactions

Nuclear fusion is a process where two or more nuclei combine to form an element with a higher atomic number (more protons in the nucleus). Fusion is the reverse process of nuclear fission. Fusion reactions...more

## Coronal Mass Ejections

"Without warning, the relatively calm solar atmosphere can be torn asunder by sudden outbursts of a scale unknown on Earth. Catastrophic events of incredible energy...stretch up to halfway across the visible...more

There just seem to be so many exciting things happening in space these days! One new discovery is that there are storms on the Sun very similar to our own tornadoes! This discovery was made by ESA/NASA...more

## What are the retrograde motions of planets in the sky?

It depends on which type of motion you are asking about. If you take a birds-eye view from the top of the solar system all the planets orbit around the Sun in a counter-clockwise (or direct) direction....more

## How do Astronauts Live in Space?

Almost everyone has a question or two about living in space. What do astronauts do in space? How do they do everyday things like eat, sleep and go to the bathroom? It's important to note that astronauts...more

## How far is the Earth from the Sun, the Moon and all the other planets? How far are all of the planets from the Sun? Do you know of a software that tracks the planets in real-time?

There is a really neat internet program called Solar System Live that shows the position of all of the planets and the Sun for any given day. If you go to that page, you'll see an image similar to the...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.