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Solar Heat

June 12, 2012

A listener asks: How hot is the surface of the sun?



How hot is the sun? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A listener called with this question:


“How hot is the surface of the sun?”


We consulted solar physicist Jack Ireland of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. He says the sun’s surface is about 6000 degrees Kelvin, which is around 20 to 30 times hotter than the hottest day ever recorded on earth. But he says sun’s core is even thousands of times hotter than that.

JACK IRELAND (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center):

You’re talking tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.


He adds that the corona of the sun, which is what you see during a solar eclipse, is hotter than the surface.


The strange thing about it is that you’re kind of moving away from a hot object, and instead of things getting cooler, they get hotter. I think that’s kind of a good example of how strange things can be on the sun.


And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, you’ll win a Science Update mug! I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

The sun as seen in extreme UV light (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)