Density of the Sun

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Namowitz, Samuel N. Heath Earth Science. Canada: Heath, 1994: 379. "… Sun's density is 1.4 times that of water." 1.4 g/cm3
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. New York: McGraw Hill, 1997: 635. "mean density = 1.410 g/cm3" 1.410 g/cm3
Sims, Lesley. Stars and the Sun. 1995: 55. "diameter = 1,392,000 km
mass = 2 × 1027 tons"
1.4 g/cm3
Hamilton, Calvin. Views of the Solar System. 1997. "density (g/cm3) 1.140" 1.410 g/cm3

The Sun is an average star. But different sources have different values for the density of Sun. They are all about 1.4 g/cm3 or about 1.4 times that of water.

For the third entry in the table above, I calculated the density of the Sun using the formula

ρ = m/V (density is mass per volume)

The mass of Sun is approximately 333,000 times of Earth and the volume of the Sun could hold more than one million Earths. The mass of the Sun is 2 × 1027 tons which is 2 × 1033 g (one metric ton is one thousand kilograms or one million grams). And to find the volume of the Sun I used the formula for volume of a sphere


The Sun's diameter is 1,392,000 km or 1.392 × 1011 cm so its radius is half of that: 6.96 × 1010 cm. Thus the volume equals

4/3*3.14*(6.96 × 1010 cm)3 = 1.41 × 1033 cm3

and the density equals

2 × 1033 g/1.41 × 1033 cm3 = 1.4 g/cm3

The Sun has many layers including the core, the radioactive layer, the convection layer, and the photosphere. The core is made up of hydrogen, which fuses, into helium. It is about 450,000 km in diameter. The radioactive layer is about 278,000 km deep, the convection layer is about 200,000 km deep, and the photosphere which is the Sun's surface is about 400 km deep. The density of each layer is different and thus the value calculated is merely an average value for the density of the Sun.

May Ko -- 1999

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