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# Earth Science 24.3B The Sun’s Interior - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Earth Science 24.3B The Sun’s Interior. The Solar Interior. Earth Science 24.3 The Sun. The Solar Interior: The interior of the sun can not be observed directly.

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Presentation Transcript

The Solar Interior

The Solar Interior:

• The interior of the sun can not be observed directly.

• For that reason, all that we know about it is based on information acquired from the energy it radiates and from theoretical studies.

Nuclear Fusion:

• Deep in it’s interior, the sun produces energy by a process known as nuclear fusion.

• This nuclear reaction converts four hydrogen nuclei into the nucleus of a helium atom.

• During nuclear fusion, energy is released because some matter is actually converted to energy.

• How does the process of nuclear fusion work?

• Consider the four hydrogen atoms have a combined atomic mass of 4.032 atomic mass units ( 4 X 1.008) whereas the atomic mass of helium is 4.003 atomic mass units. ( a difference of 0.029 units)

• This tiny difference is emitted as energy according to Einstein’s equation ( E = mc2).

• According to Einstein’s equation, seen at right, E equals energy, m equals the mass, and c equals the speed of light.

E = energy

M = mass

C = speed of light

(300,000 mp/s)

• Because the speed of light (c) is great (300,000 kilometers per second), the amount of energy released from even a small amount of material is enormous.

• The hydrogen bomb the United States military developed was made possible by creating such a reaction.

• The conversion of just one pinheads worth of hydrogen to helium generates more energy than burning thousands of tons of coal.

• Most of this energy is in the form of high-energy photons that work their way toward the solar surface.

• The photons are absorbed and reemitted many times until they reach a layer just below the photosphere.

• Here, convection currents help transport this energy to the solar surface, where it radiates through the transparent chromosphere and corona.

• Only a small percentage of the hydrogen in the nuclear reaction is actually converted to energy.

• Nevertheless, the sun is consuming 600 million tons of hydrogen each second; about 4 million tons are converted to energy.

• As hydrogen is consumed, the product of this reaction, helium, forms the solar core, which continually grows in size.

• Just how long can the sun produce energy at it’s present rate before all of it’s hydrogen fuel is consumed?

• Even at the enormous rate of consumption, the sun, has enough fuel to last easily for another 100 billion years.

• However, evidence from observing other stars indicates that the sun will grow dramatically and engulf the Earth long before all of it’s hydrogen is gone.

• It is thought that a star the size of the sun can exist in it’s present stable state for 10 billion years.

• As the sun is already 4.5 billion years old, it is “middle aged” at present.

• For fusion to occur however, the sun’s internal temperature must have reached several million degrees.

• What caused this increase in temperature?

• The solar system is believed to have formed from an enormous compressed cloud of dust and gases, mostly hydrogen.

• When gases are compressed, their temperature increases due to the higher pressure they are under.

• All of the bodies in our solar system are compressed.

• The sun however, because of it’s enormous size, was the only object to become hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur.

• Astronomers currently calculate it’s internal temperature at 15 million degrees Kelvin (K).

• The planet Jupiter is basically a hydrogen-rich ball as well.

• If it were about 10 times more massive, it too would have converted into a star capable of nuclear fusion.

• The idea of one star orbiting another seems odd but recent evidence indicates that about 50 percent of the stars in the universe occur in pairs or multiple stars within a single system.