The Solar System

The Solar System comprises the Sun, the Planets and an assortment of debris. The planets and debris orbits the Sun.Larger chunks of debris are known as asteroids or minor planets. Debris that contains volatile material become comets if their orbit brings them closer to the sun.

The Sun is a yellow dwarf star, spectral class G2. It is about half way through its life cycle. The energy that powers the Sun is generated by nuclear fusion in its core. During the process, hydrogen is converted into helium and energy is liberated. The energy gradually makes its way to the surface and escapes, giving heat and light to the planets and debris. The surface temperature of the Sun is about 6000 degrees Celsius. There is a constant escape of gas and charged particles from the Sun which is called the solar wind.

The surface of the Sun shows granulation. This is believed to be the manifestation of the convection currents that convey the energy through the Sun. Also seen on the surface of the Sun are sunspots. These are cooler areas which have a temperature of about 3000 degrees Celsius. They are associated with the magnetic field of the Sun.

From time to time, the magnetic field of the Sun becomes twisted and deformed. When this springs back from the deformation, it expels charged particles and gases from the Sun. These explosions are known as Solar Flares and cause interference with electronics systems on Earth. The arrival of flare material at the Earth also causes the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis. It is highly radioactive but the Earth’s Van Allen Belts help to keep life on our planet from harm.

The Solar System is held together by the Sun’s Gravity. The combination of forward movement and the latter cause all Solar System objects to travel in more or less elliptical orbits.