The Sun is not only a star that influences the planets around it, it is also a constantly changing body, with violent bursts of radiation, and an excellent energy generator in absurd amounts by terrestrial standards.
Its mass, about 330 thousand times that of Earth, corresponds to 99.86% of the mass of the entire Solar System, that is, the nickname of Astro Rei is not a mere force of expression.
This giant sphere is basically composed of Hydrogen and Helium, with 75% of its total being reserved for Hydrogen and less than 2% of its composition consisting of heavy elements, such as oxygen and carbon.
Unlike planets that are considered rocky, such as Earth and Mars, or gaseous, such as Saturn and Jupiter, their heat source is formed by plasma, gaseous at the surface and denser as it gets closer to the core.
It is right there, in its heart, under a temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius, that the most powerful nuclear chemical reactions take place. There are up to 600 million tons of hydrogen converted into helium per second. The difference in the mass of the two elements is expelled in the form of energy.
To leave the core and reach the surface of the star, this energy takes up to a million years, in stark contrast to the time it takes for particles from the Sun to reach Earth: 8 minutes.
Therefore, the outermost layer of the Sun, the Corona, is always expanding, creating the solar winds, hence the name “coronal mass ejections”. When large explosions occur in this area, solar particles are released.
Astronomers estimate that our Sun is 4.5 billion years old, and considering that a star of this magnitude maintains its brightness for up to 10 billion years, we still have a lot to worry about.
The Effects on Earth
The technological devices we use on Earth are heavily influenced by space weather.
Devices such as GPS and communicators that rely on radio frequency, such as airplanes, can be impacted by these gifts from the Sun.
In 1859, one of the largest ejections ever launched by the Sun hit the Earth’s magnetic field, causing the telegraph services to collapse.
As we depend much more on electricity, if this had happened today, the damage could have been greater.
In history, no solar storm has ever affected a manned space mission. But in 1972, NASA recorded solar flares that could kill a human unprotected from Earth’s magnetic field during the Apollo 16 and 17 missions.
NASA is always attentive to solar activities, and the space agency ensures that it maintains a fleet of heliophysics craft that monitor the space environment between the Sun and Earth.
In addition, there are impressive and wonderful natural events that only happen thanks to the influence of the Sun, such as the aurora borealis and australis, which are the most visible effect in our world.