Anatomy of the Sun - Internal Structure, Composition and Atmosphere

In this article, we will look at the Internal Structure, Composition and complete anatomy of the Sun. Being the only star in our Solar System, Sun not only provides us energy required for survival of human race and other beings but it also provides lot of information about Universe and its Origin.

Shape and Size

The sun is nearly a perfect sphere. Its equatorial diameter and its polar diameter differ by only 6.2 miles (10 km). The mean radius of the sun is 432,450 miles (696,000 kilometers), which makes its diameter about 864,938 miles (1.392 million km).

Anatomy of the Sun - Internal Structure, Composition and Atmosphere

Anatomy of the Sun 

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1. Sunspots

Sunspots are temporary phenomenon on the photosphere that appears as spot darker than surrounding areas.

2. Prominence

A solar prominence, also known as filament is a large bright loop like feature extending outward from the Sun's surface.

3. Granulation

It is a small short lived grainy features that covers the sun, caused by thermal currents rising from below.

4. Chromosphere

It is a reddish gaseous layer immediately above the photosphere where the density of plasma drops by a significant margin.

Anatomy of the Sun - Internal Structure, Composition and Atmosphere 2
                                                                       Credit: NASA

5. Photosphere

It is a visible layer of the Sun from where it emits its light and heat.

6. Transition Region

It is a thin irregular region that separates the relatively cool chromosphere from the much hotter Corona.

7. Solar Flare

It is a sudden and intense release of energy in the form of a radiation.

8. Convective Zone

The convective zone is the outermost layer of the interior where rapid heating of plasma creates currents of heated and cool gas.

9. Radiative Zone

It is the section of the Sun's interior between the innermost core and outer convective zone where energy created in the core diffuses slowly through the Plasma.

10. Core

It is the innermost part of the Sun which generates its energy from thermonuclear reactions.

11. Corona

It is the Sun's outermost atmosphere which extends to millions of kilometers into outer space.

12. Coronal Mass Ejection 

A Coronal Mass Ejection is a sudden and violent eruption of billion of tonnes of plasma and accompanying magnetic fields from the Sun's Corona.

13. Solar Wind

Solar Wind is a continuous stream of charged particles released from the upper layer of the atmosphere called Corona.

Atmospheric Composition

The Atmosphere of the Sun mainly consists of three layers - Photosphere, Chromosphere and the Corona. The outermost layer is the photosphere layer and is known to be most cooler region of the Sun. It is this layer which emits the white bright light which comes to us. Next layer is the Chromosphere layer which emits reddish light and is usually suppressed by the bright white light of photosphere. It can be seen only during Solar Eclipse. Next is the Corona layer which is the outer layer and extends to hundreds of kilometers in space. More on Sun Layers. Sun's mass is about 73% hydrogen, 25% helium and rest of the 2% is Carbon, oxygen and other elements.

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