How Hot is the Sun?

(by Amara Graps)

When you ask "how hot is the Sun" you have to specifiy which part of the Sun because the temperature is different in different places.

The hottest place in the center of the Sun, it is at least 10 million degrees (Kelvin). How hot is 10 million degrees Kelvin? Imagine boiling water. The center of the Sun is about 30,000 times hotter than boiling water.

If you are having trouble imagining 30,000 times hotter than boiling water, then here is some help. You may start with thinking about how long is a day and a year. The analogy is that 30,000 times hotter than boiling water is like 82 years is to one day. A lifetime!

The surface of the Sun is quite a bit cooler, it is only about 5800 degrees Kelvin. That is only 16 times hotter than boiling water. So an analogy might be that the weight of an average man is about 16 times more than than the weight of a cat, like the surface of the Sun is 16 times hotter than boiling water.

Right above the surface of the Sun, something strange happens. The Sun becomes extremely hot again, this time it is 1.5 to 2 million degrees. Cooler than the center of the Sun, but not by very much! The reason for the extremely hot outer layer (called the "corona") is a mystery that hasn't been solved by the scientists yet. They have several theories that could explain it, but they haven't determined which theory, or combination of theories is the correct answer. So the solar physicists are still working on that problem.

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Special Thanks to A. Graps.