Dandy Designs title

Our Sun

When I was a child I was told by my science teachers that the sun was “an average star.” To back up that description, it was pointed out that there were stars hotter than our sun and colder as well. There were stars that were bigger and smaller. Even in my college work when we plotted the luminosity of the stars against their temperature it was pointed out that our sun is pretty much in the center of the diagram and has a G2 spectral classification which is pretty much in the middle of the system used to categorize stars. The Hubble Space Telescope has taught us much about the distribution of stars in space, and measurements of stars by instruments using different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum have added to our recognition that the sun is an extraordinary star. A recent issue of Astronomy magazine has a cover article titled “Is the Sun an Oddball Star.” In it many of the unusual attributes of the sun are listed and some of the problems astronomers are having finding similar stars are explained. Just a few of those attributes include the following:

THE SUN IS A SINGLE STAR. Most stars in the cosmos are binary or trinary stars — two or three stars orbiting one another. The distances that we are from those stars prevent us from telling that with our naked eyes, but a vast majority are not single stars.

THE SUN IS STABLE. Most stars have violent flares and star quakes that bathe their region of space with radiation that would be lethal to life. Some stars spin very rapidly producing great instability in their photospheres. Our sun is remarkably stable.

THE SUN RADIATES THE PROPER WAVELENGTHS FOR LIFE. Many biological processes depend upon particular wavelengths of light to function. Photosynthesis cannot operate with just any energy of light, and our sun radiates those wavelengths critical for photosynthesis to occur and does not radiate the high energy radiation that we see in many other stars.

THE SUN’S TEMPERATURE IS CRITICAL. For water-based life to occur, there has to be a critical distance that can be maintained from the star providing the energy. Our sun has a temperature that allows a large solar habitable zone where the earth can have an elliptical orbit and still support life. Being too close to a star produces massive instability in a planet, and most stars are too small for a solar habitable zone to be at great distances from them.

For a more complete listing and explanation of the unique features of our sun read the June 2010 issue of Astronomy magazine. The sun is an incredibly designed furnace, made of its own fuel, which still has 98 percent of the hydrogen fuel it had the day it was created.

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