Earth science 24 3b the sun s interior
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Earth Science 24.3B The Sun’s Interior PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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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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Earth Science 24.3B The Sun’s Interior

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Earth science 24 3b the sun s interior

Earth Science 24.3B The Sun’s Interior

The Solar Interior


Earth science 24 3 the sun

Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

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

  • How does the process of nuclear fusion work?


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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).


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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)


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

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


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

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

  • What caused this increase in temperature?


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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).


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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Earth Science 24.3 The Sun

  • 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.


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