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Astronomy Lecture The Sun: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Star.

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1 Astronomy Lecture The Sun: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Star


3 Filaments Across the Sun

4 Bulk Properties of the Sun Diameter Mass Density Rotation Periods “Surface” Temp. Core Temp. 109 Earth Diameters 333,000 Earth Masses 1408 kg/m 3 Equatorial: 25 Days Polar: 35 Days 5800 K 15,500,000 K

5 Limb Darkening The sun is not as bright near the limb as it is in the center. Also it is more yellow, indicating that we are looking through cooler layers near the limb than at the center. This is because we see deeper into the photosphere when we look straight down than when we look obliquely. Mercury

6 Explanation of Limb Darkening

7 The Sun’s Atmosphere The photosphere is the visible layer of the Sun. The chromosphere is a mostly cooler layer that lies just above the photosphere. This region creates the Sun’s absorption line spectrum. The transition region is a thin region above the chromosphere, where the temperature rises rapidly from about 10,000 K to a million K. The corona is the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The temperature of the corona is 1 to 2 million K. The corona extends several times the diameter of the Sun.

8 Photosphere showing Solar Granulation

9 Solar Granulation High-resolution photographs of the Sun’s surface reveal a blotchy pattern, called granulation. Granules, which measure about 1000 km across, are convection cells in the Sun’s photosphere. Solar Granulation Video

10 Spicules and Supergranules in the Chromosphere Supergranules are regions of rising and falling gas, spanning hundreds of granules

11 The Solar Corona


13 The Active Sun Sunspots and the Sunspot Cycle Solar Magnetism and the Solar Cycle Other Atmospheric Phenomena –Plages –Active Regions –Prominences –Filaments –Coronal Holes –Flares –Coronal Mass Ejections

14 Sunspots Sunspots are typically about 10,000 km in diameter – about the size of the Earth. They have a dark central umbra surrounded by a grayish, structured penumbra. They appear dark only by comparison to the brighter surrounding photosphere. They are cooler regions of the photosphere. The temperature of the umbra is about 4500 K and that of the penumbra is about 5000 K. A large group of sunspots typically lasts about 50 days. Galileo determined the Sun’s rotation period by timing the movement of sunspots. The Sun rotates in 25.4 days at the equator and in 33 days in the polar region. Motion of Sunspots Video

15 The Sunspot Cycle

16 Solar Magnetism Sunspots are directly linked to intense magnetic fields on the Sun. When atoms are in magnetic fields, their spectrum lines are split into two or more lines on each side of the central line. This is called the Zeeman effect. The strong magnetic field in sunspots lowers their temperature by interfering with the convective flow of hot gas toward the surface. Sunspots usually come in pairs with the magnetic field coming out of one member of the pair and going in at the other member. In opposite hemispheres, sunspot pairs are reversed in their polarity. Solar Cycle: The 11-year sunspot cycle is ½ the solar cycle. In alternate sunspot cycles, the Sun’s magnetic field reverses direction causing the polarity of the sunspots to reverse.

17 Zeeman Splitting of Spectrum Lines

18 Magnetic Field Lines and Sunspot Pairs

19 Effect of Sun’s Differential Rotation on its Magnetic Field

20 Other Atmospheric Phenomena Plages – brighter (hotter) areas in chromosphere Filaments – dark streaks above the chromosphere. Huge volumes of gas uplifted into the corona Prominences – filaments viewed from the side Coronal Holes – darker (cooler) areas in corona, visible in X-rays, where gases easily can escape from the Sun Flares – violent eruptive events seen in UV & X-rays Coronal Mass Ejections – huge, balloon-shaped volumes of high-energy gas being ejected

21 Solar Prominences Prominences and the Corona photographed during the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991, near sunspot maximum

22 Active Sun in Hα

23 A Solar Prominence from SOHO

24 Prominences

25 X-ray picture of a Coronal Hole

26 UV picture of a Solar Flare

27 A Coronal Mass Ejection

28 The Sun’s Composition The main elements are hydrogen and helium, as in the gas giant planets and in other stars and nebulae in the universe. Elementby Atomsby Mass Hydrogen, H92%74% Helium, He8%25% Others0.1%1% This data is needed for the homework.

29 Main Regions of the Sun

30 The Sun’s Interior The Standard Solar Model. Is a mathematical model of the Sun, made by combining all available observations with theoretical insight into solar physics. This model shows that the Sun’s interior has three major regions, listed from outside to inside. Convection Zone. This zone extends downwards from the photosphere about 200,000 km. The material is in constant convective motion. Radiation Zone. Below the convection zone and extending to the core, is the radiation zone, where energy is transported toward the surface by radiation rather than by convection. Core. The central core, about 200,000 km in radius, is the site of the nuclear reactions that generate the Sun’s enormous energy output.

31 Density & Temperature Profiles of the Sun’s Interior

32 The Sun’s Source of Energy Solar Constant is 1400 W/m 2. Luminosity of the Sun is 1400 W/m 2  4π  (1 AU) 2 = 4  10 26 W. The Conversion of Mass to Energy: Mass and energy are related through Einstein’s equation E = mc 2. Solar Energy from Nuclear Fusion, the combining of light nuclei into heavier ones. The sum of the masses of the light nuclei is a little greater than the mass of the heavier nucleus that is formed. The Sun gets its energy from the Proton-Proton Chain, fusing 4 hydrogen atoms into 1 helium atom.

33 The Proton-Proton Chain Hydrogen to Helium Animation

34 How Energy Gets from the Sun’s Core to Its Surface part 1 Radiative Transfer. –In the central regions of the Sun, the temperature is so hot that all the electrons are stripped from the nuclei. Thus there are no bound electrons to move from one state to another, absorbing radiation. –This region is relatively transparent to radiation, allowing energy to flow out freely. –Radiation diffuses slowly outward in a haphazard zigzag pattern, taking about 170,000 years on the average to go from the core to the bottom of the convective zone.

35 How Energy Gets from the Sun’s Core to Its Surface part 2 Convective Transfer. As the temperature drops outside the inner core, atoms can retain some electrons. This causes the gas to become more and more opaque to radiation. The energy must still get out, but since the radiation is blocked, convection begins and carries the energy away to the surface. This takes about 10 days to reach the photosphere. Convection Cells. In the deep solar interior they are thought to be large, perhaps 30,000 km across. At higher levels the convection cells are smaller, about 1000 km across just below the photosphere.

36 Solar Neutrinos Neutrinos are “ghostly” particles with no charge and having an immeasurably small mass. They go through matter like it isn’t there. Therefore they are very difficult to detect. Solar neutrinos are going from the Sun through the Earth and through your body right now – roughly 100 billion of them per square centimeter each second.

37 Rising Gasses Descending Gasses


39 Summary of Key Ideas Know and Understand: The size of the Sun compared with Earth and its “surface” temperature The regions of the Sun’s atmosphere The nature of sunspots and the sunspot cycle Where and how the Sun gets its energy The regions of the Sun’s Interior

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