What keeps the sun shining and how long can it continue to do so?

Shining Sun

The Sun is a huge ball of extremely hot, glowing gases.  It is considered as the star nearest to the Earth.  It’s mass is equivalent to 333,420 earth.

The surface temperature of the sun is estimated to be between 5 000 oC to 6 000 oC.  Temperature at the core is as high as 14 000 000 oC.  These temperatures are hot enough to dissolve any metal or rock or to change them into gas. Thus, scientists infer that the sun must be a glove of gas.

It is believe that the heat of the Sun is the result of nuclear fusion.  This is a process whereby elements with small masses combine to form elements with larger masses.  Hydrogen atoms on the Sun combine together to form helium.  When this happens, tremendous amounts of heat and energy are released.

This nuclear reaction taking place within the Sun is the source of its energy.

Hydrogen atom is used up in the process of producing energy.  The sun is destroying itself in the process.  Given its total mass, it will take the sun millions of years before it exhausts its hydrogen supply.  Scientists estimate that the Sun will continue shining for about another 5 000 000 years.  It will then gradually expand, becoming a red giant start that will swallow up all the planets, including the earth.  Then, it will compress into a very small star, or the so-called white dwarf.  Then, it will fade out completely and will become a dark, cold body.

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