Science Questions

What is the surface of the Sun made of?

Sun, 1st Jul 2007

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Andy, Harwich asked:

What is the surface of the Sun made of? Does it even have a surface?


The sun itself is made of gas, mostly hydrogen and helium, and so does not have a solid surface like you would find on Earth or Mars.  However, if you look at a photo of the sun you can see it has a definite edge to it. This is not because the gas stops at this point, it actually carries on diffusely for thousands of kilometres.  The Sun is hotter in the centre and cooler towards the outside, and there is a point where the hot gas becomes cool enough to become transparent, so this point is what we see as the surface of the Sun.

The surface of the Sun is about 5000 degrees Celsius, but inside its millions of degrees.  Nuclear fusion reactions occur inside the Sun, much like nuclear bombs going off all the time.

There is also material streaming off the surface of the Sun all the time, which forms the “Solar Wind”.


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