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Is the Sun really a star?

  • Is the Sun really a star? A The Sun is a medium-sized star known as a yellow dwarf. It is younger and smaller than most stars in the universe, but is very bright and extremely hot. In about five billion years, when all the hydrogen in its core has been used up, the Sun will change into a red giant star. After that, the Sun will evolve into a white dwarf before finally dying out. Q How did we learn about the Sun? A We have sent several solar missions into space to study the Sun and its characteristics. The first detailed observations were made by NASA’s Pioneer missions that were launched between 1959 and 1968. The Solar Maximum mission of 1980 made a detailed study of solar flares. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) launched in 1995, has been continuously collecting data regarding the Sun for the last ten years.

    In different directions! The Sun takes about 26 days on average to rotate on its axis. Since it is made up of gas, different parts of the Sun rotate at different speeds. The surface closest to the equator rotates faster than that closest to the polar regions. The Sun’s surface near the poles takes almost 36 days to complete one rotation.

    A joint effort The SOHO was launched jointly by the European Space Agency and NASA. For over ten years, SOHO has been studying the outer layers of the Sun.

    Surface of the Sun There is constant activity visible on the surface of the Sun, as it pulses and glows due to the heat and light produced by the nuclear reactions within.