Energy Source of The Sun

Image from B&H

Ever wonder what the Sun is made of? and how does it shine so bright?

Our Sun, just like other stars, is a self gravitating body of hot ionized gas (also known as plasma) that gives off energy. Surely, the amount of energy that it gives off is not a few and we humans like other living species rely on it for over 5 billion years since the Earth was formed. The Sun does this in its core by nuclear fusion with the help of its extreme pressure and temperature.

Nuclear fusion is a nuclear process involving the fusion ‘like its name’ of lighter elements into heavier elements and release of energy. The most simple and abundant element that is found all across the universe and the interiors of stars like our Sun is hydrogen. The Sun fuses 4 hydrogen atoms into 1 helium nuclei and releases energy. The energy can be calculated using the famous mass-energy equivalence. That is by knowing the difference in mass of the reactant and product (also known as mass defect) and multiplying It by the speed of light squared. The energy we calculate is for 1 reaction. Imagine the large number of reactions that occur in the Sun, that is around 1.400.000 kilometers across and almost purely containing hydrogen. Then the amount of energy it release every second would be ridiculously large and the Sun have been doing this for 5 billion years!

No wonder countries are investing a huge amount of money for harnessing the Sun’s energy which that is through the development of high performance and affordable solar cells as an alternative for coal as the main energy source in the far future.

Astronomy, Physics, and Data Science Enthusiast