Did you know that the Sun accounts for over 99% of the mass of our solar system?

Planet Earth (where we live) is located in in the milky way galaxy. The milky way galaxy is just one of somewhere between 100 to 200 billion galaxies that exist in the universe. Experts really have a hard time agreeing on that. Most galaxies are home to least one star, but on average 100 million stars inhabit a galaxy. In our galaxy we have just one star. Our star is called the sun. You might be a little familiar with it? The sun is over 100 times wider than Earth and the largest object in our galaxy exerting a great deal of gravity on the rest of the bodies in our galaxy. Due to this gravity all planets in our galaxy revolve around the sun.

The sun is a humongous ball of gas consisting mostly of hydrogen (91%) followed by helium (8.9%). The gas molecules are in a constant state of thermonuclear fusion. This causes atoms to continually combine to form larger atoms. This process results in immense amounts of energy being released in the form of heat and light. The surface of the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal core can reach temperatures of 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It takes roughly 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach us on Earth.

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Background on Our Star

Plants convert energy from the Sun into energy that they can use to live and grow. The process of photosynthesis is critical to all life on Earth.

Background on Our Star Questions

Our journeys into space since 1959 have continued to add to our knowledge.

Solar Eclipse

During a solar eclipse, the Moon's shadow can be described in three main parts.

QUESTIONS: Solar Eclipse

It is dangerous to look directly at a solar eclipse.

Sunspots, Solar Wind, and Solar Flares

Solar flares contain electromagnetic radiation, including high-energy X-rays and gamma rays.

QUESTIONS: Sunspots, Solar Wind, and Solar Flares

The energy coming out of a solar flare is stronger than the combined strength of a million nuclear bombs.

Photosynthesis and the Food Chain

The term "food chain" describes the relationship between different organisms with regards to who eats what (or who). Every living organism is part of a food chain.

QUESTIONS: Photosynthesis and the Food Chain

Some single-celled organisms like algae are also capable of photosynthesis.

Solar Cycles

Sunspots follow the eleven-year-long solar cycle. This means that sunspot activity increases every eleven years.

QUESTIONS: Solar Cycles

A coronal mass ejection happens on a much larger scale than a solar flare. The two can take place either together or independently.

Auroras

An aurora, also called a polar light, is a natural display of lights in the sky that can be seen from regions with a very high latitude.

QUESTIONS: Auroras

If you have seen photographs of the aurora borealis or aurora australis, you will know that the lights are different colors.

Daylight and Seasons

The Earth's axis is an imaginary pole that goes from top to bottom straight through the center of the Earth.

QUESTIONS: Daylight and Seasons

Because the Earth is slightly tilted relative to the sun, the amount of sunlight that is received during the day at any given point on Earth changes.

The Corona

When can the corona be seen without special instruments?

QUESTIONS: The Corona

The Earth does not usually feel these solar winds because of its strong magnetic field, which blocks them.

Sunburn

When ultraviolet light waves strike our skin, too much of it can damage or kill skin cells.

QUESTIONS: Sunburn

Ultraviolet light is not all bad, however. In fact, regular exposure to some ultraviolet light is important to human health because it causes human skin to make vitamin D.

The Benefits of Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight is also important when it comes to your mood. Both sunlight and darkness trigger your brain to release hormones.

QUESTIONS: The Benefits of Sunlight

Is the vitamin D in fortified foods the same as the vitamin D made by human skin? Explain.