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The sun is the solitary star of our solar system, sometimes called Sol. The planet Earth and all of her sister planets, both the other terrestrial planets and the gas giants, orbit the sun in accordance with Newton's Laws of Gravity.

The sun is the nearest star to Earth and the brightest object in the sky.

Other bodies that orbit the sun include asteroids, meteoroid?s, comets, Trans-Neptunian objects, and, of course, dust?.

The sun is a main sequence star, with [spectral class]? G2, meaning that it is somewhat bigger and hotter than the average star but far smaller than the largest [red giant]? star. A G2 star has a main sequence lifetime of about 10 billion years, and the sun has probably about 5 billion, as determined by nucleocosmochronology?. One outstanding question about the sun is the difference between the number of neutrinos observed from the sun, and the number predicted by theory, the solar neutrino problem.

Other characteristics of the sun are:

Diameter 1,392,000 km
Surface area 6.09 × 1012 km2
Volume 1.41 × 1027 m3
Mass 1.9891 × 1030 kg
Relative mass 333,400 Earth masses
Density 1411 kg m-3
Central density 1.5 × 105 kg m-3
Surface gravity 274 m s-2
Surface temperature 5780 K
Period of rotation
At equator: 27 d 06 h 36 m
At 30° latitude: 28 d 04 h 48 m
At 60° latitude: 30 d 19 h 12 m
At 75° latitude: 31 d 19 h 12 m
Mean distance from Earth 150,000,000 km
Apparent magnitude -27
Absolute magnitude 4.8

The composition of the sun's photosphere is 73.46% hydrogen, 24.85% helium, 0.77% oxygen, 0.29% carbon, 0.16% iron, 0.12% neon, 0.09% nitrogen, 0.07% silicon, 0.05% magnesium, and 0.04% sulphur. All matter in the sun is in the form of plasma due to its extreme temperature. This makes it possible for the sun to rotate faster at its equator than it does at higher latitudes, since the sun is not a solid body. The differential rotation of the sun's latitudes causes its [magnetic field]? lines to become twisted together over time, causing magnetic field loops to erupt from the sun's surface and trigger the formation of the sun's dramatic sunspots and [solar prominence]?s.

Observation of the sun discloses such phenomena as : (Caution: direct observation of the sun can cause permament sight loss.)

Other terms related to the sun :

See also: sun mythology

Solar system:
Sun - Mercury - Venus - Earth - Mars - Asteroids - Jupiter - Saturn - Uranus - Neptune - Pluto - Comets

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Last edited December 11, 2001 5:45 am by Bryan Derksen (diff)