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The size of the sun in comparison

It is the fire of life. It can be kind but it can get angry. But it never throws its weight around. It is the sun. And although it is 330,000 more massive than earth and contains 99.8% of the mass in our solar system, it is small in comparison with some other stars.

The sun never cease to amaze us with its theatrics, its lava flares dancing across its surface in a ballet of nuclear fusion, sometimes leaping millions of miles into the air. And although the sun is big, its intense heat and light makes it difficult to capture good images with normal instruments. So NASA scientists use an Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager and an Atmospheric Imaging Assembly detector to view the ultra-violet (UV) and extreme ultra-violet lithography (EUV) wavelengths released by the sun. The resulting images are spectacular.

Full disk image of the sun. Ain’t it beautiful?!

Full disk image of the sun

Full disk image of the sun as taken by NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, which orbits 22,300 miles above earth.

Earth in comparison to the sun

Earth’s distance from the sun varies between 91.4 million miles – in January – and 94.4 million miles – in July. The average distance of 92,955,887.6 miles (149, 597, 870.7 kilometers) is called 1 astronomical unit (AU), a measurement that is used to report distances to other planets and stars as well. In short, it’s not a weekend drive.

NASA puts the size of earth to the sun in perspective like this: Suppose the radius of Earth were the width of an ordinary paper clip. The radius of the sun would be roughly the height of a desk, and the sun would be about 100 paces from earth.

Earth size in comparison to the sun and other planets:

Earth size in comparison with sun and planets

(Hey, we’re small but we’re beautiful!)

The size of the sun in comparison

Our sun is one of billions in the entire universe. It also is fairly small in comparison with other big stars. In fact, our sun is classified as a G2 dwarf star. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is twice as massive as the sun and 25 times more luminous. And Sirius is dwarfed by Pollux, which is eight times the radius of the sun. And Pollux is dwarfed by Arcturus, which is almost 26 times the size of the sun.

Size of the sun in comparison

It’s a big, big universe

But there are bigger stars yet. When compared to Antares, our handsome sun is a mere pixel on a map. And Antares is not even the biggest star. That title is thought to belong to a star called VY Canus Majoris. It is about 2,000 times the size of the sun, or more than twice the size of Antares.

Sun in comparison to Antares:

Sun compared to Antares

Note that it VY Canus Majoris is the biggest in size but not mass. The currently known most massive star is thought to be WR 102ka – known as Peony Nebula Star – at about 175 times the mass of the sun.

How big is the universe?

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe calculated the age of the known universe at 13.7 billion years old, based on its radius of 13.7 billion light years. And it is growing bigger every day, at a speed of 71 km/s/Mpc. The size of the whole universe is estimated to be 78 billion light years. If you start traveling today at 60 miles per hour (100km/h) you’ll get to the end of your first coffee stop, the end of one light year, in nine trillion years. Then you just keep going for another 77.999 999 billion light years. Or you could stay here, look after our beautiful planet… and enjoy the sun.

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  • horatio

    Never be afraid to consider all posssibilities. Steven Hawking says he believes in a spiritual being. The true question is: Is this being active or static? If all the laws of physics are the same everywhere (discounting black holes), then static is the correct choice. Wheels were set into motion and the inevitable happened. If there are true anomolies in the universe for which there can be no explanation, the active is the answer. There are no individuals whom are correct at all times. All of you here have the advantage of annonimity and therefore can be as insane or insulting as you like. The universe is an amazing and wonderous place. one thing to keep in mind: If the church had continued to have it’s way in the dark ages untill present, the only ones to even read would be the rich and the clergy. That is one way they kept control over the poor and the superstisous. We are wiser now through science. However, in a crisis, I have yet to hear someone say, “oh, dear Einstein, save us and smite my enemies”.

  • dorma

    right now, i am imagining that there is another big,massive,huge star out there!!!

    100+100=200/200 year 20000056../// science sun>2q34

  • http://royalecraig.com/ Ade

    Awesome, puts all of our tiny, insignificant problems into perspective :)

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