Figure 11: http://.gb.nrao

Subjects in Astronomy

Astronomy / May 24, 2015

The Sun is made up of about 2 x 1030 kilograms of gas. It is composed of about 75% hydrogen and 25% helium. About 0.1% is metals (made from hydrogen via nuclear fusion). This ratio is changing over time (very slowly), as the nuclear reactions continue, converting smaller atoms into more massive ones.

Since the Sun formed 4.5 billion years ago, it has used up about half of its initial hydrogen supply.

Our Sun is a seond or third generation star. Second generation stars do not just burn hydrogen, they also burn heavier elements, like helium and metals (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium), and were formed from supernova explosions (the debris of exploded population II stars).

The element helium was named after the Sun (called "Helios" in Greek) because it was first discovered on the Sun. Helium is plentiful on the Sun but rare on Earth. The element helium was discovered by Jules Janssen during the total solar eclipse of 1868 when he detected a new line in the solar absorption spectrum; Norman Lockyer suggested the name helium.