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How do the gases stay in place on the sun?

How do the gases stay in place on the sun?
Callum Frost from Stockton on Tees (Aged 5-14)

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6 Responses

  1. The sun is a huge object made up of loads of gas. The mass of the sun is about 10^30 = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kg. That’s pretty big! All that mass exerts a gravitational pull. That’s just like here on earth where the mass of all the lava and rocks exerts a gravitational pull on us. On the sun it’s the gas exerting a gravitational pull on itself. In the same way as the earth’s gravitational pull holds us down (and the earth’s atmosphere), the sun’s self-gravity holds it together.

  2. Gas in the sun is bound (kept in place) in the same way the atmosphere is bound the earth, by gravitation. The sun attracts the gas, and thus (most of) the gas can’t escape. Since the sun is made of gas, the whole of the sun is held together by gravitation.

    Of course some of the gas gets blown of the sun by the sheer intensity of light the sun sends out–the so-called solar wind.

  3. They stay in place because of gravity. Gravity is a force that likes to pull everything together. On Earth it keeps you on the ground and also holds all the gases that make up the atmosphere close to the surface of the Earth as well.

    The Sun does it in exactly the same way. Since there is much more material in the Sun it actually does it far more strongly than the Earth can – about 30 times as much!

  4. Callum,
    it is all to do with gravity. Everything including you have gravity. The larger the object, the more gravity it has. The earth is bigger than you so you feel it’s gravity on you. But you are also pulling the earth towards you with your gravity.
    On the sun, all the hydrogen and helium are attracting each other. As the sun is soo large (198,910,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg) it’s gravity is 28 times bigger than the earths. This gravity holds the gas atoms in place. A can of beans would weigh 12.5 kg on the sun.

  5. Hi Callum. They stay on the Sun for the same reason our atmosphere (which is a mix of gases of course) stays around the Earth – gravity. The Sun, being so much more massive than the Earth, has a great deal more gravity, and in the ordinary way would pull its gases down into quite a small ball. However, all the heat and light it is producing actually drive the gases further away.

  6. The answer is gravity.

    All the gas atoms in a large gas cloud in space (mostly hydrogen) attract each other, so before the sun formed, starting off from a cold cloud of hydrogen, part of it collapsed because of all the atoms attracting each other. As the cloud gets denser in the center, it heats up. As it gets hotter and hotter as the collapse continues, eventually it gets hot enough at the center for nuclear fusion reactions to happen. This is where hydrogen gets turned into helium, releasing some energy in the process. That generated heat slows down the collapse of the cloud and stops the sun getting any smaller.

    The sun then is a balance between gravity trying to make the atoms in the sun all collapse down to the center and heat from nuclear fusion which is trying to make it expand again.

    Its a stable balance between these because if the sun expands a bit then the center gets cooler and generates less heat which means the sun can collapse down a bit. But if the sun shrinks a bit too much, it gets much hotter at the center which generates more hear which makes the sun expand again. So the sun is in a stable balance between generating energy and shrinking under its own gravity.

    A little bit can pick up enough energy go escape and these are what we see as the solar wind or space storms from solar flares but nearly all the gases in the sun stay in place because of this balance between energy generation in the center of the sun and the sun trying to shrink under its own ‘weight’.

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