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the burning sun...

The sun, the enabler of the processes that gave impetus for the formation of life burns ever present in the summer sky of NYC. There was a time when the idea of the sun as simply an orb rotating around the Earth was common but that time has come and gone, most people today know that in the hierarchy of celestial spheres , the sun is preeminent being the most massive by far of all other orbiting bodies put together.

What less people know is the amazing physics and chemistry that happens inside the sun itself. It is not a homogeneous ball of fusing hydrogen gas, it has complex flows of electromagnetic energy across its surface which occasionally burst free in the form of Coronal mass ejections that travel near the speed of light toward Earth. Some theorize that these CME's have drastically changed events here on Earth, CME's of sufficient strength could devastate the modern communication system built on orbiting satellites by causing massive overloads in the delicate circuitry of those orbiting devices. Terrestrially, the strong fields give rise to increased activity with the Earth's own magnetic field , increasing the number of particles that impact and penetrate our thin atmosphere to hit ground. The effects of these increased electrical storms could cause major electrical grid irregularities across the globe. Some feel that the cycles that the sun has during which it undergoes maxima and minima of sun spot activity may be linked to the climate changes of the Earth and may be instrumental for the cyclic ice ages.

But the activity of the sun goes deeper still, the sun is a furnace for creating atoms. The fusion process gives rise to the heavier nuclei that are required to form the elements we find all over the Earth. Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen up to Iron. The engine of this atom factory lies in the immense pressures that attend the gravitational accretion of billions of tons of hydrogen gas, deep in the core hydrogen is being fused and the heavier the nuclei the deeper it forms with iron accumulating in the core. Over the next 4.5 billion years, the time that will elapse before the sun begins to run out of the easily fused hydrogen fuel, the balance of power will the core grows heavy with nuclei and the sun radiates away billions of tons of mass in the form of the trillions of neutrinos that it expels every second the gravitational pressure will fall, this will cause the sun to expand like a giant balloon as the more loosely bound matter revolts against the weakened gravity that binds them together, as the sun expands the ferocity of its nuclear furnace will wane and it will take on a more reddish hue. As it continues to grow it will consume Mercury, Venus and by some calculations even Earth will find itself within the bounds of the suns engorged ruby sphere.

As the hydrogen fuel continues to be burned into heavy elements, the weakened gravity will allow the fused nuclei to escape, the sun will seed the solar system with billions of tons of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen , iron...over several million years its expulsions will take on brilliant and fantastic shapes similar to what we see when looking at other planetary nebula formed by dying suns. Perhaps the sun will expel helical wisps of oxygen, iron and nitrogen or spherical shells...however it occurs the sun will seed the solar system with the materials that may form who knows what will come next. In the twilight of the solar system and as the sun shrinks to a white dwarf the solar system will officially die but it will continue to shine in the form of the dull characteristic frequencies that are emitted from the shells of radiated heavy elements bathed by the last uv photon embers of the sun at its core. A beacon of a sun that once burned bright and in its death continues to shower space with its splendor in a subdued palette of expelled elements.


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