The Sun Visible Image of the Sun Our sole source of light and heat in the solar system A very common star: a glowing ball of gas held together by its
own gravity and powered by nuclear fusion at its center. Pressure (from heat caused by nuclear reactions) balances the gravitational pull toward the Suns center.
Called Hydrostatic Equilibrium. This balance leads to a spherical ball of gas, called the Sun. What would happen if the nuclear reactions (burning) stopped?
Main Regions of the Sun Solar Properties Radius = 696,000 km (100 times Earth) Mass = 2 x 1030 kg (300,000 times Earth) Av. Density = 1410 kg/m3
Rotation Period = 24.9 days (equator) 29.8 days (poles) Surface temp = 5780 K The Moons orbit around the Earth would easily fit within the Sun! Luminosity of the Sun
= LSUN (Total light energy emitted per second) ~ 4 x 1026 W 100 billion onemegaton nuclear bombs every second! Solar constant:
LSUN 4R2 (energy/second/area at the radius of Earths orbit) The Solar Interior Helioseismology In the 1960s, it was discovered that the
surface of the Sun vibrates like a bell Internal pressure waves reflect off the photosphere Analysis of the surface patterns of these waves tell us about the inside of the
Sun How do we know the interior structure of the Sun? The Standard Solar Model Energy Transport within the Sun Extremely hot core - ionized gas
No electrons left on atoms to capture photons - core/interior is transparent to light (radiation zone) Temperature falls further from core - more and more non-ionized atoms capture the photons - gas becomes opaque to light in the convection zone The low density in the photosphere makes it transparent to light - radiation takes over again Convection Convection takes over when
the gas is too opaque for radiative energy transport. Hot gas is less dense and rises (or floats, like a hot air balloon or a beach ball in a pool). Cool gas is more dense and sinks
Solar Granulation Evidence for Convection Solar Granules are the tops of convection cells. Bright regions are where hot material is upwelling (1000 km across). Dark regions are where cooler material is sinking. Material rises/sinks @ ~1 km/sec (2200 mph; Doppler).
The Solar Atmosphere The solar spectrum has thousands of absorption lines More than 67 different elements are present! Hydrogen is the most abundant element followed
by Helium (1st discovered in the Sun!) Spectral lines only tell us about the part of the Sun that forms them (photosphere and chromosphere) but these elements are also thought to be representative of the entire Sun. Chromosphere
Chromosphere (seen during full Solar eclipse) Chromosphere emits very little light because it is of low density Reddish hue due to 32 (656.3 nm) line emission from Hydrogen SOHO SPECTROHELIOGRAMS TODAY
Chromospheric Spicules: warm jets of matter shooting out at ~100 km/s last only minutes Spicules are thought to the result of magnetic disturbances H light
Transition Zone and Corona Transition Zone & Corona Very low density, T ~ 106 K We see emission lines from highly
ionized elements (Fe+5 Fe+13) which indicates that the temperature here is very HOT Why does the Temperature rise further from the hot light source? magnetic activity -spicules and other more energetic phenomena (more about this later)
Corona (seen during full Solar eclipse) Hot coronal gas escapes the Sun Solar wind Solar Wind Solar Wind
Coronal gas has enough heat (kinetic) energy to escape the Suns gravity. The Sun is evaporating via this wind. Solar wind travels at ~500 km/s, reaching Earth in ~3 days The Sun loses about 1 million tons of matter each second! However, over the Suns lifetime, it has lost only ~0.1% of its total mass. Hot coronal gas (~1,000,000 K) emits mostly in X-rays.
Coronal holes are sources of the solar wind (lower density regions) Coronal holes are related to the Suns magnetic
field The Active Sun UV light Most of theSolar luminosity is continuous photosphere emission. But, there is an irregular component (contributing little to the Suns total luminosity).
Sunspots Granulation around sunspot Sunspots Typically about 10000 km across At any time, the sun may have hundreds or none
Dark color because they are cooler than photospheric gas (4500K in darkest parts) Each spot can last from a few days to a few months Galileo observed these spots and realized the sun is rotating differentially (faster at the poles, slower at the equator) Sunspots & Magnetic Fields
The magnetic field in a sunspot is 1000x greater than the surrounding area Sunspots are almost always in pairs at the same latitude with each member having opposite polarity All sunspots in the same
hemisphere have the same magnetic configuration SOLAR MAGNETOGRAM 11/13/12 The Suns differential rotation distorts the magnetic field lines The twisted and tangled field lines occasionally get kinked, causing the field
strength to increase tube of lines bursts through atmosphere creating sunspot pair Sunspot Cycle Solar maximum is reached every ~11 years Solar Cycle is 22 years long direction of magnetic field polarity flips every 11 years (back to original orientation every 22 years)
Heating of the Corona Charged particles (mostly protons and electrons) are accelerated along magnetic field lines above sunspots. This type of activity, not light energy, heats the corona.
Charged particles follow magnetic fields between sunspots: Solar Prominences Sunspots are cool, but the gas above them is hot! Solar Prominence
Typical size is 100,000 km May persist for days or weeks Earth The Sun November 14, 2011
Very large solar prominence (1/2 million km across base, i.e. 39 Earth diameters) taken from Skylab in UV light. Solar Flare and Resulting Prominence Solar Plages and Filaments Solar Flare, Prominence and
Filament Coronal activity increases with the number of sunspots.
SOLAR-TERRESTRIAL RELATIONSHIPS AURORAE
SOLAR WIND MAGNETIC STORMS RADIO FADEOUTS COSMIC RAYS WEATHER (?) What makes the Sun shine? 4H
Nuclear Fusion He The Proton-Proton Chain: But where does the Energy come from?
E=mc2 (c = speed of light) c2 is a very large number! A little mass equals a LOT of energy. Example: 1 gram of matter 1014 Joules (J) of energy. Enough to power a 100 Watt light bulb for ~32,000 years!
But where does the Energy come from!? E=mc2 (c = speed of light) The total mass decreases during a fusion reaction. Mass lost is converted to Energy:
Mass of 4 H Atoms = 6.693 10-27 kg Mass of 1 He Atom = 6.645 10-27 kg Difference = 0.048 10-27 kg (Binding Energy, ordinarily expressed in MeV) (% m converted to E)
= (0.7%) The sun has enough mass to fuel its current energy output for another 5 billion years Nuclear fusion requires temperatures of at least 107 K why? Atomic nuclei are positively charged they repel via the electromagnetic
force. Merging nuclei (protons in Hydrogen) require high speeds. (Higher temperature faster motion) At very close range, the strong nuclear force takes over, binding protons and neutrons together (FUSION). Neutrinos are one byproduct. The energy output from the core of the sun is in the form of
gammy rays. These are transformed into visible and IR light by the time they reach the surface (after interactions with particles in the Sun). Neutrinos are almost non-interacting with matter So they stream out freely. Neutrinos provide important tests of nuclear energy generation.
Detecting Solar Neutrinos these light detectors measure photons emitted by rare chlorine-neutrino reactions in the fluid. Solar Neutrino Problem: There are fewer observed neutrinos than theory predicts (!) A discrepancy between theory and experiments could mean we have the Suns core temperature
wrong. But probably means we have more to learn about neutrinos! (Neutrinos might oscillate into something else, a little like radioactive decays)
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