The Sun is a scary hot, violent place. It’s also essential for most forms of life on Earth. Stars are very different from the planets they host, and it’s rather fascinating how they do what they do. Learning about our Sun tells us a lot about stars elsewhere, because stars are formed from the same materials. So, what are these materials?
1. The outer layers.
The sun’s outer layers consist of its atmosphere and photosphere. The photosphere is the part we see all the time, and it’s made up of plasma. Plasma is ionized gas of hydrogen and helium along with electrons.
2. The interior.
Beneath the photosphere lie the radiative zone and the convective zone. In the radiative zone, photons bounce around the particles present there and carry the energy generated into the core. The convective zone carries heat up to the surface of the Sun by the process of convection, where hot gas currents essentially “boil”.
3. The core.
The core is where the magic happens. This is where nuclear fusion occurs, which is the process where atoms combine and form heavier atoms. In the Sun, hydrogen atoms are fused into helium atoms. Eventually, the Sun will run out of fuel and that will spell the beginning of the end.