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Understanding the Source of Solar Energy: The Sun

The Sun is the star at the center of our solar system, and is largely responsible for all life on Earth. This nearly perfect sphere consists of hot plasma, with an internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field per a dynamo process.

Our star is regarded as the most important source of energy for life to exist. As such, the Sun has provided energy for practically all living creatures on our planet through the process of photosynthesis, where plants absorb solar radiation and convert it into stored energy for growth and development.

The Size and Elements of the Sun

The diameter of the Sun is approximately 109 times that of planet Earth. Its mass is roughly 330,000 times that of Earth. The Sun consists of hydrogen (~73%), and the rest consists of mostly helium (~25%). The remaining substances include heavier elements, such as oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

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The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star (G2V), based on its spectral class. In layman’s terms, it is informally referred to as a “yellow dwarf”. The Sun formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago from a gravitational collapse of matter within a region of a large molecular cloud. Most of this matter gathered in the center, whereas the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that became the Solar System. The central mass became so hot and dense that it eventually initiated nuclear fusion in its core.

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