9 November 2016 | Solar Surface

solar-surface

Credit & copyright: Gabriel Corban | Click image to enlarge

The atmosphere of the sun is composed of several layers, mainly the photosphere, the chromosphere and the corona. It’s in these outer layers that the sun’s energy, which has bubbled up from the sun’s interior layers, is detected as sunlight.

The lowest layer of the sun’s atmosphere is the photosphere. It is about 500 kilometers thick. This layer is where the sun’s energy is released as light. Because of the distance from the sun to Earth, light reaches our planet in about eight minutes.

The sun’s photosphere is often mistakenly referred to as the surface of the sun. In reality however, the sun’s photosphere is only a “liquid-like” plasma layer made of neon that covers the actual surface of the sun.

That visible layer we see with our eyes is composed of penumbral filaments that are several hundred kilometers deep. This visible neon plasma layer that we call the photosphere, and a thicker, more dense atmospheric layer composed of silicon plasma, entirely covers the actual rocky, calcium ferrite surface layer of the sun.

The visible photosphere covers the actual surface of the sun, much as the earth’s oceans cover most of the surface of the earth. In this case the sun’s photosphere is very bright and we cannot see the darker, more rigid surface features below the photosphere without the aid of satellite technology.

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