2 THE NATURE OF THE SUN At the center of our solar system is the Sun which is a typical medium sized star. Composed mainly of Hydrogen (73% by mass), 23% helium and the rest is other elements. The Sun emits radiation of almost all forms found in the electromagnetic spectrum.
3 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) 1. Core The inner part of the Sun is called its core. Pressures are high and temperatures are at least 15 million degrees Celsius.
4 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) Nuclear fusion happens in the Sun s core. (process of combining smaller elements into heavier elements that releases huge amounts of energy) The huge amounts of energy produced cause the sun to swell, despite the huge gravitational pull.
5 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) 2. Radiative Zone - The layer outside the core. The plasma is very dense here. Light and other forms of radiation are continuously absorbed and re-emitted in all directions. Light takes at least years to pass up and through it.
6 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) Convective Zone - The layer outside the radiative zone. In this region, huge bubbles of hot plasma ooze up toward the surface, carrying energy..
7 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) Slightly cooler regions of plasma sink from higher levels in the zone to lower levels, where they warm up again. This constant circulation of plasma between hotter and cooler regions is called convection, which gives this layer its name
8 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) 4. Photosphere. The Sun does not have distinct edges between its layers, but the photosphere is usually considered to be the boundary between the inside and the outside of the Sun. This is the part of the Sun we see from Earth. It has the lowest temperature of all the layers, about 5500 C. The Sun s yellow colour originates in the photosphere.
9 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) 5. Chromosphere Above the photosphere is a thin layer called the chromosphere. Chromos means coloured, and this layer has a red cast to it. Because the yellow photosphere is so bright, however, we can see the chromosphere only during a total solar eclipse.
10 THE SUN S LAYERS (6) 6. Corona The outermost layer of the Sun and extends beyond the chromosphere for millions of kilometres. During a solar eclipse, when the corona is most clearly visible, astronomers are best able to make careful measurements of it.
11 SURFACE FEATURES OF THE SUN Both the Sun and Earth have magnetic fields. Earth s magnetic field produces the North and South Magnetic Poles. The magnetic field is caused by spinning molten (meaning melted) metal deep in Earth s core. The Sun also has a magnetic field, generated by movement of the plasma deep in the Sun s interior. The Sun s magnetic field extends far out into space where it is carried by the solar wind.
12 SURFACE FEATURES OF THE SUN Sunspots - a region on the Sun s surface that is cooler than the surrounding areas. By contrast it looks darker. These are regions where the magnetic field is extremely strong, slowing down convection and prevents plasma from mixing. The number of the reaches a maximum every 11 year cycle.
13 SURFACE FEATURES OF THE SUN Prominences - Large, often curved, bright stream of particles extending outward from the photosphere into the corona. Frequently the curved shape forms a complete loop. The electrically charged plasma in the prominence allows the prominence to be shaped by the magnetic field.
14 SURFACE FEATURES OF THE SUN Solar Flares A massive explosion at the surface of the Sun. It usually originates where the magnetic field breaks out of the Sun s surface and interacts with the chromosphere and corona. This sudden release of magnetic energy flings hot plasma out into space, which we see as a long bright filament extending out from the Sun.
15 SURFACE FEATURES OF THE SUN An extremely powerful kind of flare is called a coronal mass ejection. When this occurs, a large amount of plasma is thrown out through the corona and into space at a speed of more than 1000 km/s. Earth s magnetic field protects Earth by diverting much of the plasma away from the planet s surface. It can also damage orbiting satellites and electrical transmission lines on the ground
16 THE SUN S EFFECTS ON EARTH The Sun warms Earth and supports every form of life on the planet. In addition to these significant influences, there are many other ways the Sun affects our planet. The solar wind and aurora borealis are two of these ways.
17 THE SOLAR WIND The tremendous amount of heat at the surface of the Sun produces a thin but steady stream of subatomic particles. This constant flow of particles, streaming out of the Sun s surface in all directions, is called the solar wind.
18 THE AURORA BOREALIS The solar wind is responsible for creating the breathtaking displays of green, yellow, and red light in the skies near Earth s northern and southern regions. The aurora borealis is produced when the charged particles of the solar wind collide with the atoms and molecules in Earth s atmosphere. An aurora (meaning a glow) forms as particles from the solar wind are trapped by Earth s magnetic field and are swept toward the North and South Poles
19 HOW THE SOLAR SYSTEM FORMED After the Sun formed, the leftover dust, gases, and other debris in the nebula continued to spin, creating a disk around the new star. Small bodies began to form, growing into the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets that make up the solar system. Larger particles tended to grow faster than smaller ones because they were involved in more collisions.
20 HOW THE SOLAR SYSTEM FORMED As these objects got bigger in mass, gravity caused them to contract and bind together even more strongly. A planet is a celestial object that orbits one or more stars and is capable of forming into a spherical shape as it melds under the weight of its own gravity. Planets do not create their own light, they only reflect light.
21 THE ROCKY INNER PLANETS Earth s Moon Within a few hundred million years after forming, the young Earth may have been struck by an object nearly the size of the planet Mars. In this enormous collision, both of the objects remelted and mixed. The larger object cooled down to become Earth as we know it today.
22 The smaller object, likely formed from material torn from Earth after this collision, became trapped by Earth s gravity. It existed first as debris and rubble, but eventually it compacted into a new object, the Moon.
23 MERCURY is the 1/10 th the mass of Earth, due to the lack of an atmosphere the temperatures range from 400 C to -180
24 VENUS is 80% of Earths mass; its CO 2 filled atmosphere causes temperatures to be over 450 C and rains H 2 SO 4. It also rotates east to west which is the opposite of 6 of the other 7 planets.
25 EARTH is unique as water exists in all three states. Earth is protected from solar radiation by its magnetic field.
26 MARS is similar to Earth in its size and mass but much colder. It does have an atmosphere and polar ice caps.
27 THE FOUR GASEOUS OUTER PLANETS Beyond the snow line water in space can cool to form droplets and freeze, this is thought have acted as a glue to form the 4 gaseous planets. All of these planets have moons, Saturn and Jupiter each have more than 60.
28 JUPITER. More than twice the mass of all the others combined. The planet is composed mainly of H 2 and He. Had it been 10% larger it is thought that it may have become a star.
29 SATURN. Has over 1000 rings. Composed mainly of H 2 and He. Is thought to have winds of 1800km/h
30 URANUS. It axis of rotation points towards the plane of its orbit. Mainly composed of H 2, He, and CH 4.
31 NEPTUNE. Very similar to Uranus in composition and size. Wind speeds of 2500km/h.
32 THE MINOR PLANETS Beyond the gas giant planets, a number of very large balls of ice formed. These have come to be called minor, or dwarf, planets, the most famous of which is Pluto. There are about 25 large enough to be considered minor planets.
33 COMETS AND METEORS A comet is a celestial object made of ice and dust. When a gravitational disturbance causes one to change its orbit and fall nearer the Sun, the Sun heats the comet, causing some of its ice particles to break away. Carried away from the Sun by the solar wind, these icy particles spread out into a tail millions of kilometres long, lit up by the Sun.
34 METEOROIDS are small pieces of rock or metal that travel throughout the solar system with no fixed path.
35 METEOR A meteor is a meteoroid that, upon entering Earth s atmosphere, begins to burn up as a result of friction. If a meteor does not burn up completely and strikes Earth s surface, it is called a meteorite.
36 QUESTIONS 1. Which two elements make up more than 96 percent of the Sun? K (1) 2. Where in the Sun does nuclear fusion occur? K (1) 3. What is the difference between the radiative zone and the convection zone in terms of how energy is transferred up toward the outside of the Sun? I (2) 4. Name four types of surface features on the Sun. K (1) 5. How can a coronal mass ejection on the Sun cause damage on Earth? I (1)
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