The official classification of a star like The Sun is a "Yellow G2 Dwarf." It is an average, middle-aged star.
If the Sun was brighter, it would be hotter and would have burnt off its hydrogen fuel billions of years ago. This means that, if the Sun is any different to how it is now, life on Earth would not exist. It is the perfect size, perfect age, perfect distance, perfect temperature and perfect brightness for life to exist on a planet like Earth.
Everytime hydrogen nuclei fuse together to form helium nuclei, which results in a burst of energy, heating up and powering the Sun, the Sun loses a tiny amount of its mass.
If we could remove the bright, glowing surface of the Sun, we would see nothing other than blackness. Only the Sun's outer surface shines brightly. The inside of the Sun is complete darkness.
The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is caused by the fact that the Earth spins, and is not due to the Sun moving, and is the same in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
In the same way that the planets orbit around the Sun, the Sun orbits around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, taking 225,000,000 years to complete a full orbit, travelling at 800,000 kilometres per hour.
Many centuries ago, people believed Earth to be the centre of the Universe, with the Sun as a planet orbiting it. They believed that the Moon was the closest planet, followed by either Mercury, Venus or the Sun in the next closest position, with Jupiter and Saturn orbiting furthest away.
The Sun was formed, like every other star, from a huge swirling cloud of gas called a nebula. The cloud contained all the matter which went together to form the Sun and its family of planets, moons and hundreds of thousands of asteroids, meteors and comets. In total, 99.8% of the matter in the cloud formed the Sun. The other 0.2% formed all of the other objects in the Solar System. And, just in case you want to know what the mass of the Sun is, it's about 1,989,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms!
The Sun's gravitational pull is so strong that, even a dwarf planet 5,900,000,000 kilometres away from it (Pluto) is still kept in orbit of the Sun. There are more dwarf planets even further away than Pluto which are kept in orbit by the Sun.
The Sun is almost half-way through its life, and at its most stable point in its lifetime. Eventually, it will increase in size, eating up the Inner Planets and heating up the Outer Planets and their moons, before collapsing to become a very small White Dwarf.
If you could take a journey in an normal airliner flying at its normal speed (about 644 km an hour) travelling from Earth to the Sun, it would take 20 years to reach your destination, and that's without stopping.
|Name||The Sun / Sol|
|Meaning of Name||Sol is the Roman god of the Sun|
|Name in Foreign Languages||Soleil (French), Sol (Spanish, Portuguese, Latin), Sonne (German), Solnce (Russian), Helios (Greek)|
|Average Distance from Earth||149,597,890 km / 92,955,820 miles / 1.000 A.U.|
|Closest Distance to Earth||147,100,000 km / 91,400,000 miles / 0.983 A.U.|
|Farthest Distance from Earth||152,100,000 km / 94,500,000 miles / 1.017 A.U.|
|Diameter across equator||1,391,000 km
/ 864,300 miles
Comparison with Earth: 12,756 km / 7,926 miles
|Diagram showing Sun's size compared to the size of Earth||COMING SOON!|
|Circumference around equator||
4,379,000 km / 2,715,000 miles
Comparison with Earth: 40,074 km / 24,901 miles
Comparison with Earth: 5,973,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
|Time to spin on Axis||25 days, 9 hours
Comparison with Earth: 23 hours, 56 minutes
|Time to orbit centre of Galaxy||225,000,000
|Gravity (Earth = 1)||28
|Escape Velocity||2,223,720 km/h /
Comparison with Earth: 40,248 km/h / 25,009 mph
|Minimum Surface Temperature||3,000c / 5,432 F
Comparison with Earth: -88 °c / -126 °F / 185 K
|Maximum Surface Temperature||5,500c / 9,932 F
Comparison with Earth: 58 °c / 136 ° F / 331 K
|Contents of Atmosphere||70% hydrogen, 28% helium, 2% other elements (this is the chemical make-up of the entire Sun, which is mostly gaseous)|
|Known orbiting bodies||8 regular
planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus
(discovered 1751), Neptune (discovered 1846).
5 dwarf planets - Ceres (discovered 1801), Pluto (discovered 1930), Haumea (discovered 2004), Makemake (disovered 2005), Eris (discovered 2005)
There are also thousands of asteroids and comets in orbit around the Sun
|Past Missions (including nationality and year of launch)||Helios 1 (USA/Germany, 1974), Helios 2 (USA/Germany, 1976), SolarMax (USA, 1980)|
|Present Missions||Ulysses (USA/Europe, 1990), SOHO (USA/Europe, 1995), STEREO (USA, 2006)|
|Planned Missions||Solar Dynamics Observatory Mission (2008)|