Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

The Sun Is Hot

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Do you remember when They Might Be Giants famously covered a 1959 children's song called 'Why Does The Sun Shine?' It begins like this:

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas A gigantic nuclear furnace Where hydrogen is built into helium At a temperature of millions of degrees

I thought I'd start the morning with a bit more detail 50 years after the original... At temperatures over 13 million K, the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium produces much of the sun's power. Every second, ~ 4.4 Mt of matter is converted to energy by way of thermonuclear reactions in this star's core, and (following Einstein's mass-energy equation) that's a rate about 30 trillion times higher than our yearly use of all primary electricity and fuels on planet Earth. (And no, I haven't come up with a new tune yet...)

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In