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Author Topic: If fire needs air, where does the Sun get air from to burn?  (Read 1637 times)

Tom Waugh via Facebook

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Tom Waugh via Facebook asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I'll catch your podacst and listen to it on my way to work as I always do.

Question: if fire needs air, where does the sun get air from to burn?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 11/10/2010 11:30:02 by _system »


 

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If fire needs air, where does the Sun get air from to burn?
« Reply #1 on: 12/10/2010 13:06:28 »
The sun is NOT a fire! it does not get its energy from a chemical reaction like burning. This would not provide anything like enough energy to keep the sun going.  It initially gets its energy from its collapse under its own gravitational attraction which heats the gas by compressing it.  This gravitational energy would only keep the sun going for a few tens of millions of years.  This was a big problem for the physicists in the 1890s because they could see from the fossil evidence that the earth was much older than this.   However the gravitational heating allows the core of the sun to get so hot that it can fuse hydrogen atoms to helium atoms and this creates a great deal of energy which has kept the sun going for around five billion years which is long enough to work with the fossil record.  It will keep the sun going for at least another five billion years so there is no worries in this direction for a while.
 

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If fire needs air, where does the Sun get air from to burn?
« Reply #1 on: 12/10/2010 13:06:28 »

 

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