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Q & A: Traveling in the sun

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How long does it take for a photon to travel from the core of the sun to the sun’s corona
- Anonymous
A:

It takes the average photon about 10,000 years to go from the core of the sun to the corona. This sounds like a really long time. Photons move really fast, about 300 million meters in a second. That means that a photon could travel across about 3 million football fields in just a second! The reason photons take so long to get out of the sun is that they don't travel in a straight line inside the sun because there is so much matter in the sun that photons keep bumping into. The matter(mostly electrons and ions of helium and hydrogen) catches the photons and then releases them again in a different direction. The photons take such a long to get out because they keep turning. You can do a little experiment to try this out at home. All you need is a friend, a blindfold, and a room relatively free of obstacles. Blindfold your friend. Stand in the center of the room. Have your friend shout our directions randomly. Like forwards, backwards, left and right. Everytime you hear a direction take a step in that direction and see count how many steps it takes you to reach the edge of the room. Then see how many steps it takes you to get to an edge of the room just walking in a straight line. Also NASA maintains an information page on the sun at http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/sun.html
You can find lots of cool pictures and facts about the sun here.

Dan

(published on 10/22/2007)

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