Layers of the Sun: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Sun is the star at the center of our Solar System. Just like the Earth and the other planets, the Sun has several layers. In this lesson, we will talk about the Sun and its layers.

The Sun: Not Just a Big Ball of Fire

Have you ever heard someone say the Sun is a big ball of fire? That isn't true! In fact, the Sun isn't fire at all. The Sun is made up of layers, and none of the layers are made of fire. Take a look at the image to see all the layers together, and then we'll talk about what each one is, starting with the center of the sun and ending with the outside, closest layer to Earth.

This image shows all of the layers of the Sun that we will talk about. Refer back to this image when reading about each of the layers below.
Sun Layers

The Core

Just like the Earth, the Sun has a core. Unlike the Earth's core, though, the Sun's core is where the fuel of the Sun (hydrogen) is being used for energy. This process is called nuclear fusion. All the heat and light that we feel here on Earth started in the Sun's core through the process of nuclear fusion.

The Radiative and Convective Zones

As the Sun's energy travels out from the core, it goes through the radiative zone first, then the convective zone. It takes a very long time for the heat and light from the core to travel through these zones because they're so big. If you placed the Earth side by side, it would take 45 Earths to equal the width of the radiative and convective zones!

The Photosphere

The photosphere is the brightest layer of the Sun. Even though it is not the outside layer, it is the layer that we can see from Earth. It is kind of like shining a light through a window. You don't see the window; you see the light! You can remember this layer by thinking of a photograph of the sun. In the 'photo'graph, you are seeing the 'photo'sphere!

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