Most people already know the basic facts about the sun. It's a star. It's massive. And it is considered the center of the solar system galaxy. However, the sun is much more than just the gravitational center of our galaxy. In truth, it is the center of life for our world. Every living thing on Earth is in some way sustained by the energy given off by the sun. Hence, the sun's nickname: the "Life-Giving Star."
It is an understatement to say that the sun is big. To put its size in perspective, the sun is large enough to fit more than a million Earths inside of it. In the most basic definition, the sun is a continuous nuclear fusion operation turning hydrogen into helium. The result of a chemical reaction this massive causes enormous amounts of energy that we see in form of light and feel in the form of heat. The sun is so large that it creates enough gravity to hold every planet in this solar system on a set orbit.
The sun keeps everything in place. The sun keeps the planets, including Earth, in orbit. This includes comets and meteors as well.
Humans view the functions of the sun on a much smaller level. Our concern is how the sun sustains life on our planet. The sun's energy provides warmth for our planet. Life on this planet would not be possible without the warmth given off by the sun. At 93 million miles away, Earth is positioned just close enough to the sun to sustain life.
The sun also provides light for our planet. However, humans depend on energy for much more than just light. The nuclear fusion created by the sun gives off massive amounts of light and radiation. The light given off by the sun travels a little over eight minutes before reaching Earth. This energy is a major function in the life-sustaining process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the conversion of light energy into chemical energy. Almost all living organisms on this planet depend on the photosynthesis process to survive.
The sun's most important benefit is that it provides energy that is needed to sustain life. This benefit can be viewed from several different aspects. The sun's energy has an effect on plant life. The sun's energy is absorbed by plants and used in the photosynthesis process to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The oxygen is then released from plants into the atmosphere. Oxygen along with energy from the sun is absorbed by animals and humans. Humans use the energy from the sun to help in the process to build bones.
While the sun has many benefits, it also has some harmful effects. Too much energy from the sun can be dangerous. Most of the energy from the sun is filtered in space. The energy that makes it into the atmosphere must be absorbed in limited amounts. For plants, too much energy from the sun can disrupt the photosynthesis process and cause the plant to die. For animals, too much energy from the sun can cause the body to dehydrate and cause death. For humans, too much energy from the sun can cause dehydration. It also raises radiation levels, which can cause skin cancer.
Most people believe that the sun is yellow. That is inaccurate. The sun has a surface temperature of about 5,510 degrees Celsius, causing it to burn white. We view the sun as yellow because of atmospheric scattering of light. The sun is so massive that it contains 99.85 percent of the mass in the solar system. One hundred billion tons of dynamite detonated each second is equal to the energy that is produced by the sun. The sun's energy is created from hydrogen burning and being converted into helium. One day, all of the hydrogen from the sun will burn out completely and helium will be the energy source of the sun.
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