Our nearest star

SOHO/EIT temperature map recorded by EIT on 21 June 2001
SOHO snaps the Sun's heat
The Sun is our nearest star. The Sun provides us with light and heat. It also gives out dangerous ultraviolet light which causes sunburn and may cause cancer. Without the Sun there would be no daylight, and our planet would simply be a dark, frozen world, with no oceans of liquid water and no life.
This huge ball of superhot gas is 1.4 million kilometres across, equal to 109 Earths set side by side. With a mass of 2 million-trillion-trillion-trillion kilograms, it weighs as much as 330 000 Earths. About 1 300 000 Earths would fit inside the Sun.
Although it seems small when seen at sunrise or sunset, this is only because the Sun lies about 150 million km away from us. At this distance, it takes about 8 minutes for sunlight to reach us – even when it is travelling at about 300 000 km/s. This means that we see the Sun set eight minutes after the event has actually taken place!
Last update: 2 December 2004

The Sun

 •  The Sun (http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/SEMMM5WJD1E_OurUniverse_0.html)
 •  SOHO (http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/SEM8Q5WJD1E_OurUniverse_0.html)
 •  Sun eclipses (http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/SEMGO5WJD1E_OurUniverse_0.html)
 •  Ulysses (http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/SEMP03S7NWF_OurUniverse_0.html)
 •  Cluster explores invisible space (http://www.esa.int/esaKIDSen/SEM7CY1PLFG_OurUniverse_0.html)