Is it getting hot in here? Since those Firelytes love the heat, we thought we’d go an adventure with them to the hottest spot in our galaxy: the SUN!
The Sun is a spot of constant fascination for scientists and space-lovers alike. On August 12, 2018, NASA launched the historic Park Solar Probe. Its mission is to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun. Parker will be able to travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, closer to it than any spacecraft before!
The hope is that Parker will be able to provide humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
Before we get into what Parker is looking for, let’s have the Firelytes describe to us all the parts of the sun. The sun accounts for 99.86% of our solar system, and is made up of the gases hydrogen and helium. It is so big that one million Earths could fit inside it. Wow! It is made up of several layers that help us understand its makeup, so let’s take a look. Take it away, Firelytes!
Layers of the Sun
Erupto says: The Sun’s core is about 200,000 miles across and takes up about one quarter of the Sun’s size. The temperature inside is about 15 million degrees Celsius. The core is tightly packed, which creates an environment for nuclear reactions to occur.
Hearther says: The radiative zone is just outside the core and generates energy by nuclear fusion. Both the core and radiative zone spin differently than the rest of the sun. This energy produced is in the form of photons, or particles of light or radiation.
Chark Says: A thermometer would read 15 million degrees Celsius in the convective zone of the Sun. Energy created from the radiative zone is transported through here by radiation and conduction.
Blazer says: The photosphere is the visible surface of the sun. It is what we see on Earth. Light is radiated from the photosphere’s surface.
Magmunch says: Temperatures at the Sun’s chromosphere are about 4,000 degrees Celsius. This is the layer that emits the sun’s reddish color only visible during eclipses.
Twotorch says: The Sun is surrounded by a “jacket of gases” called an atmosphere. The outermost later is corona. It is usually not visible because of the Sun’s bright light, but can be seen by a total solar eclipse.
Now back to Parker, the NASA’s space probe currently making its way around the Sun. For the first time, Parker will be able to gather data from the corona, hoping to deepen scientists’ understanding of the origin and evolution of solar wind. The neatest part? Parker will be able to give information to NASA’s ability to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment that will affect life and technology here on our planet.
Parker will hurtle around the Sun at 430,00 mph.
How fast is that? Well, fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. in one second!
And what about the heat? Parker’s outer solar shield will be up against temperatures of about 2,500 degree Fahrenheit, but inside the probe it will stay a comfortable room temperature.
The Sun is the only star we can study up close. As the source of light and heat for the Earth, the more scientists study it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed. Solar wind, or the flow of gases from the Sun, can cause disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field. All good stuff to find out – Parker is going to help scientists do it.
Stay tuned on Parker’s latest findings at nasa.gov. And thank you, Firelytes, for our Sun fun facts!