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The Universe

The Universe is all existing matter & space. It is incomprehensively large in size.
The Universe consists of both physical (varying from subatomic particles to galactic
super-clusters) and non-physical (light, gravitation, space etc.) components.
The universe, at present, is said to possess about 100 billion galaxies, each comprising
an average of 100 billion stars.
Most cosmologists believe that the universe was born about 13.8 billion years ago in an
event called as Big Bang.
Big Bang is a gigantic explosion that caused matter to expand in all directions to form
billions of galaxies, stars and planets over time.

Big Bang Theory and Expanding Universe

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the birth of the universe.
It states that at some moment all of space was contained in a single point from which
the universe has been expanding in all directions ever since.
Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 13.8 billion years ago,
which is thus considered the age of the universe
After the initial expansion (inflation), the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the
formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms.
The majority of atoms produced by the Big Bang were hydrogen and helium.
Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity to form stars
and galaxies.
According to this theory, the universe, ever since its birth, is expanding in all directions

Expanding Universe

Big Crunch

At some point of times, universe would reach a maximum size and then begin to
It would become denser and hotter again, ending with a state similar to that in which it
starteda Big Crunch, the death of the universe.

Cosmic microwave background

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the thermal radiation left over from the Big
The CMB is a cosmic background radiation that is fundamental to observational
cosmology because it is the oldest light in the Universe and can be found in all
With a traditional optical telescope, the space between stars and galaxies (the
background) is completely dark. However, a sufficiently sensitive radio telescope shows a
faint background glow, almost exactly the same in all directions, that isnot associated
with any star, galaxy, or other object. This glow is strongest in the microwave region of
the radio spectrum.
The CMB is well explained as radiation left over from an early stage in the development
of the Universe, and its discovery is considered a landmark test of the Big Bang model of
the Universe.

What Are Redshift and Blueshift?

Redshift and Blueshift describe how light changes as objects in space (such as stars or
galaxies) move closer or farther away from us. The concept is key to charting the
universes expansion.

Visible light is a spectrum of colors, which is clear to anyone who has looked at a
When an object moves away from us, the light is shifted to the red end of the spectrum,
as its wavelengths get longer.
If an object moves closer, the light moves to the blue end of the spectrum, as its
wavelengths get shorter.
American astronomer Edwin Hubble (who the Hubble Space Telescope is named after)
was the first to describe the redshift phenomenon and tie it to an expanding universe.
His observations, revealed in 1929, showed that nearly all galaxies he observed are
moving away.

Star Formation - Stellar Evolution

Outlined below are the many steps involved in a stars evolution, from its formation in a
nebula, to its death as a white dwarf or neutron star.
1. Nebula
2. Protostar
3. T Tauri Star
4. Main Sequence Star
5. Red Giant
6. Supernova
7. White dwarf, Neutron Star or Black Hole

A nebula is a cloud of gas (hydrogen) and dust in space.
Nebulae are the birthplaces of stars.
Nebulae consist mostly hydrogen and helium gas.


A Protostar looks like a star but its core is not yet hot enough for nuclear fusion to
take place (nuclear fusion: fusion of 2 hydrogen atoms into a helium atom with the
liberation of huge amount of energy. Nuclear fusion occurs only when the initial
temperatures are very high few million degree Celsius).

Protostars are usually surrounded by dust, which blocks the light that they emit, so
they are difficult to observe in the visible spectrum.

T Tauri star

A very young, lightweight star, less than 10 million years old, that it still undergoing
gravitational contraction; it represents an intermediate stage between a Protostar and a
low-mass main sequence star like the Sun.

Main sequence stars

Main sequence stars are stars that are fusing hydrogen atoms to form helium atoms
in their cores.
Most of the stars in the universe about 90 percent of them are main sequence
The sun is a main sequence star.

Red dwarf

The faintest main sequence stars are called the red dwarfs. They are less than one-
thousandth the brightness of the Sun.

Red giant

Red giants have diameters between 10 and 100 times that of the Sun.
They are very bright, although their surface temperature is lower than that of the Sun.
A red giant is formed during the later stages of the evolution as it runs out of hydrogen
fuel at its center.
It still fuses hydrogen into helium in a shell surrounding a degenerate helium core.
Red giants are hot enough to turn the helium at their core into heavy elements like
carbon. But most stars are not massive enough to create the pressures and heat
necessary to burn heavy elements, so fusion and heat production stops.

Super Giant

As the red giant star condenses, it heats up even further, burning the last of its
hydrogen and causing the star's outer layers to expand outward.
At this stage, the star becomes a large red giant. Very large red giants are often called
Super Giants.

Planetary Nebula

Planetary nebula is a cloud of Gas and Dust [No Planets Involved].

Planetary Nebula are the outer layers of a star that are lost when the star changes from
a red giant to a white dwarf.

White dwarf

This is very small, hot star, the last stage in the life cycle of a star like the Sun.
White dwarfs are the shrunken remains of normal stars, whose nuclear energy supplies
have been used up.
White dwarf consist of degenerate matter with a very high density due to gravitational
effects, i.e. one spoonful has a mass of several tones.

Degenerate matter

Fusion in a star's core produces heat and outward pressure, but this pressure is kept in
balance by the inward push of gravity generated by a star's mass.
When the hydrogen used as fuel vanishes, and fusion slows, gravity causes the star to
collapse in on itself. This creates a degenerate star.
Great densities (degenerate star) are only possible when electrons are displaced from
their regular shells and pushed closer to the nucleus, allowing atoms to take up less
space. The matter in this state is called degenerate matter.

This is the explosive death of a star (red giant), and often results in the star obtaining
the brightness of 100 million suns for a short time.
The extremely luminous burst of radiation expels much or all of a star's material at a
great velocity, driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium.
A great proportion of primary cosmic rays comes from supernovae.

Supernovae can be triggered in one of two ways

1. Nova: by the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a white dwarf (degenerate star); or
2. Supernova: by the gravitational collapse of the core of a massive star.


Nova is a nuclear explosion on a white dwarf which causes a sudden brightening of the
Novae are thought to occur on the surface of a white dwarf in a binary system.
If the two stars of the system are sufficiently near to one another, material can be pulled
from the companion star's surface onto the white dwarf.

A nova is caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of the star, commencing
a runaway fusion reaction.

Black dwarf

The last stage of stellar evolution is a black dwarf.

A black dwarf is a white dwarf that has sufficiently cooled that it no longer emits
significant heat or light.
Because the time required for a white dwarf to reach this state is calculated to be longer
than the current age of the universe (13.8 billion years), no black dwarfs are expected
to exist in the universe yet. At the moment, they are strictly theoretical.

Brown Dwarfs
Brown dwarfs are objects which are too large to be called planets and too small to be
Brown dwarfs are thought to form in the same way that stars do from a collapsing
cloud of gas and dust.
However, as the cloud collapses, it does not form an object which is dense enough at its
core to trigger nuclear fusion.
Brown dwarfs were only a theoretical concept until they were first discovered in 1995.

Neutron stars

These stars are composed mainly of neutrons and are produced after a supernova,
forcing the protons and electrons to combine to produce a neutron star.
Neutron stars are very dense. Typical stars having a mass of three times the Sun but a
diameter of only 20 km.
If its mass is any greater, its gravity will be so strong that it will shrink further to
become a black hole.

Black holes

Black holes are believed to form from massive stars at the end of their lifetimes.
The gravitational pull in a black hole is so great that nothing can escape from it, not
even light.
The density of matter in a black hole cannot be measured.
Black holes distort the space around them, and can often suck neighboring matter into
them including stars.
Galaxy is a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held
together by gravitational attraction.
Galaxies are the major building blocks of the universe.
The smallest galaxies contain about 100,000 stars, while the largest contains up to 3000
billion stars.

From the billions of galaxies, two basic types have been identified:
Regular galaxies, and
Irregular galaxies.

Regular Galaxies

Spiral Galaxies Elliptical Galaxies

The Milky Way is an example of disc Star distribution is uneven.
shaped spiral galaxy which has
greater concentration of stars near its
Spiral galaxies are well supplied with Most of their member stars are very old
the interstellar gas in which new and no new star forming in them.
bright, young stars form.
Smaller and less brighter The biggest and the brightest galaxies in
the universe are elliptical
The Milky Way and other spiral Nonuniform distribution of stars.
galaxies consist of populations of old
stars in the center, and the youngest
stars located in the arms.
Irregular Galaxies

The irregular galaxies comprise about one-tenth of all galaxies.

The stars of the irregular galaxies are generally very old.

Our Galaxy (Milky Way)

Milky Way is the galaxy that hosts our solar system. It is shaped like a flat disc with a
central bulge.
The Solar System is located in the Orion Arm, 26,000 light years from the center of the
Milky Way galaxy.
Its diameter is about a 1,00,000 light years. In the nucleus the thickness reaches
10,000 light years, whereas in the disc it is 500-2,000 light years thick.
The entire galaxy is rotating in the space, although the inner stars travel faster than
those further out.
The Sun which is about one-third out from the center, completes one lap of galaxy in
about every 220 million years.
Solar System Formation - Nebular Theory of Laplace (1796)
Star Formation

The distribution of matter and energy was not even in the early universe.
These initial density differences gave rise to differences in gravitational forces and it
caused the matter to get drawn together. These formed the bases for development of
A galaxy starts to form by accumulation of hydrogen gas in the form of a very large cloud
called nebula.
Eventually, growing nebula develops localized clumps of gas.
These clumps continue to grow into even denser gaseous bodies, giving rise to formation
of stars.

Formation of planets

Primordial matter existed in the form of a gaseous mass called nebula.

This mass started cooling down and in the process lost some of its volume.
Because of a reduced size, the rotational speed of the nebula increased.
This had a cascading effect as the centrifugal force of its mass also increased.
As a result, the mass of the nebula started concentrating along its equator.

This mass was, on the other hand, being pulled inwards by a gravitational pull.
But, as the centrifugal force increased further, some of the mass from the equator
separated from the main nebula in the form of a ring which was also rotating.
This ring, when cooled down and condensed, gave rise to planets and sub-planets, as it
got broken into many smaller rings.
The remaining mass became the sun.

Drawbacks of Nebular Theory of Laplace (1796)

1. Conservation of angular momentum could not be proved: Although the sun's mass
accounts for 99.9% of the entire solar system, the angular momentum of the sun is only
2% that of the solar system.
2. Fails to explain the revolution in the opposite direction by some of the sub-planets of
Saturn and Uranus.
3. The theory fails to explain why only eight planets were formed.

Solar system
The nebula from which our Solar system is supposed to have been formed, started its
collapse and core formation some time 5-5.6 billion years ago and the planets were
formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
Our solar system consists of the sun (the star), planets, satellites, millions of smaller
bodies like asteroids, meteorites and comets and huge quantity of dust-grains and
Out of the nine planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are called as the inner
planets as they lie between the sun and the belt of asteroids the other five planets are
called the outer planets.
Alternatively, the first four are called Terrestrial, meaning earth-like as they are made
up of rock and metals, and have relatively high densities. The rest five are called Jovian
or Gas Giant planets.
Jovian means Jupiter-like. Most of them are much larger than the terrestrial planets
and have thick atmosphere, mostly of helium and hydrogen.
The orbits of the planets are nearly circular, but many comets, asteroids, and Kuiper
belt objects follow highly elliptical orbits.

Why are the inner planets rocky while others are mostly in gaseous form?

The terrestrial planets were formed in the close vicinity of the parent star where it was
too warm for gases to condense to solid particles. Jovian planets were formed at quite a
distant location.
The solar wind was most intense nearer the sun; so, it blew off lots of gas and dust from
the terrestrial planets. The solar winds were not all that intense to cause similar removal
of gases from the Jovian planets.
The terrestrial planets are smaller and their lower gravity could not hold the escaping

Components of the Solar System

Eight major planets,
Dwarf planets (Pluto, Ceres, Eris etc.),
Satellites and countless minor planets
Comets and Debris.

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first to develop a mathematically predictive heliocentric

system (Sun at the center). [Geocentric: Earth at the center]
Age: 4.6 billion years.
Diameter: 13,91,785 km (~1.3 million km).
Temperature: 6000 C on surface and 16 million C in core.
Density: 1.41 times that of water.

Density of water = 999.97 kg/m; Density of Iron = 7870 kg/m. That implies Iron is
(7870/999.97) = 7.87 times denser than water.

Period of rotation: 25 days 9 hrs.

Speed of rotation: 7179.73 km/hrs. (Earths rotational velocity: 1675Km/hrs.)
Sun is equivalent to 3,32,900 Earth masses.
Stars like Sun are rare in Milky Way galaxy, whereas substantially dimmer and cooler
stars, known as red dwarfs, are common.
The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun, with most of the remaining mass
contained in Jupiter and Saturn.
Sun is rotating (counter-clockwise, as viewed from a long way above Earth's north pole).
Although the Sun dominates the system by mass, it accounts for only about 2% of the
angular momentum due to the differential rotation within the gaseous Sun.
The Sun, which comprises nearly all the matter in the Solar System, is composed of
roughly 98% hydrogen and helium.
Jupiter and Saturn, which comprise nearly all the remaining matter, possess
atmospheres composed of roughly 99% of these elements.
Those objects closer to the Sun, which are more affected by heat and light pressure, are
composed of elements with high melting points.
Objects farther from the Sun are composed largely of materials with lower melting

A celestial body moving in an elliptical orbit round a star, the Earth is known as planet.

Planets are generally divided into:

1. the Inner Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars), and

2. the Outer Planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto-dwarf planet).

Inner Planets

The inner Solar System is the traditional name for the region comprising the terrestrial
planets and asteroids.
They are composed mainly of silicates and metals.
The four inner or terrestrial planets have dense, rocky compositions, few or no moons,
and no ring systems.
They are composed largely of refractory minerals, such as the silicates, which form their
crusts and mantles, and metals, such as iron and nickel, which form their cores.
Three of the four inner planets (Venus, Earth and Mars) have atmospheres substantial
enough to generate weather; all have impact craters and tectonic surface features, such
as rift valleys and volcanoes.
The term inner planet should not be confused with inferior planet, which designates
those planets that are closer to the Sun than Earth is (i.e. Mercury and Venus).
The term superior planet designates planets outside Earth's orbit and thus includes
both the outer planets and Mars.

Surface gravity: 1kg = 0.38 kg.

Mercury is similar to the Moon with a surface dominated by craters and a younger area
of dark plains presumably made from floods of lava.


Surface gravity: 1kg = 0.88 kg.

Venus is often considered to be the Earth's twin, but the two planets are not identical.
Venus has high plateaus, folded mountain belts, numerous volcanoes, and relatively
smooth volcanic plains.
The surface of Venus is totally obscured by a thick atmosphere composed mostly of
carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid.
It is much drier than Earth, and its atmosphere is ninety times as dense.


Surface gravity: 1 kg =1 kg
The force of the Earth's rotation makes the world bulge very slightly at the equator and
go a little flat at the North and the South poles. So the Earth is actually a flattened
sphere, or a geoid.
It is large enough to develop and retain an atmosphere and a hydrosphere.
A ray of light from the sun takes about eight minutes to reach the earth. Light takes
only a second to reach us from the moon.


Surface gravity: 1 kg = 0.38 kg.

Surface has been dynamic. Almost every geologic feature is gigantic. Three huge
volcanoes, one more than 28 km high exists at Mars.
There is evidence not only of stream action, but of catastrophic flooding.
Wind action is also an important process on Mars.
In addition polar regions are covered with alternating layers of ice and windblown
It possesses an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide.
Its surface, peppered with vast volcanoes, such as Olympus Mons, and rift valleys, such
as Valles Marineris, shows geological activity that may have persisted until as recently
as 2 million years ago.
Its red color comes from iron oxide (rust) in its soil.
Mars has two tiny natural satellites (Deimos and Phobos) thought to be captured

Asteroid belt

Millions of objects, remnants of planetary formation, circle the Sun in a zone lying
between Mars and Jupiter. They are known as asteroids.
The circular chain of asteroids lying between Mars & Jupiter is called the asteroid belt.
It is thought to be remnants from the Solar System's formation that failed to coalesce
because of the gravitational interference of Jupiter.
The asteroid belt lies between 2.3 and 3.3 AU from the Sun. (1 AU or 1 Astronomical
Unit is equivalent to the distance between the Sun and the Earth.)
Asteroids are composed mainly of refractory rocky and metallic minerals, with some ice.
Asteroids range in size from hundreds of kilometers across to microscopic.
All asteroids except the largest, Ceres (dwarf planet), are classified as small Solar
System bodies.
Fragments of asteroids break off to form meteoroids, which can reach the Earth's


Ceres (2.77 AU) is the largest asteroid, a protoplanet, and a dwarf planet.
It has a diameter of slightly under 1,000 km, and a mass large enough for its own
gravity to pull it into a spherical shape

Outer Planets

Outer Planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the dwarf planet Pluto.
The four outer planets, called the gas giants, are substantially more massive than the
The two largest, Jupiter and Saturn, are composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. The
two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are composed largely of substances called
ices, such as water, ammonia and methane, and are often referred to separately as
ice giants.
The four outer planets, or gas giants (sometimes called Jovian planets), collectively make
up 99% of the mass known to orbit the Sun.
All four gas giants have rings, although only Saturn's ring system is easily observed
from Earth.


Surface gravity: 1 kg = 2.53 kg.

It is composed mostly of gas and liquid swirling in complex patterns.
Jupiter has no solid surface and hence no record of a geologic history.
Its moons are, however, solid planetary bodies that contain geologic wonders.
Number of moons = 67. (Planet with highest number of moons).
Jupiter's four large moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto), called the Galilean
satellites because they were discovered by Galileo in 1610.


Surface gravity: 1 kg = 1.07 kg.

It is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium.
Saturn's rings for long have been considered as its most dramatic feature.
The rings are probably made up of billions of particles of ice and ice-covered rocks
Titan, the second-largest moon in the Solar System, is larger than Mercury and the only
satellite in the Solar System with a substantial atmosphere. (Our Moon is the fifth
largest natural satellite. Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter, is the largest natural satellite in
this solar system. At 5,268 km at the equator, it is larger than Mercury, the dwarf
planet Pluto, and three times larger than the Moon orbiting Earth.)
Number of Moons = 62.


Surface gravity: 1 kg = 0.92 kg.

No solid surface.
Enveloped by a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.
In contrast to all other planets in the solar system, it is tipped and spun on its sides,
that is its axis of rotation lies nearly the plane of its orbit.
Moons = 27.


1 kg = 1.18 kg.
Uranus and Neptune are called the twins of the outer solar system.
Surrounded by thick atmosphere of hydrogen, helium and methane.
Moons = 13.

Pluto and Charon

1 kg = 0.30 kg.
The dwarf planet Pluto (39 AU average) is the largest known object in the Kuiper belt.
When discovered in 1930, it was considered to be the ninth planet; this changed in 2006
with the adoption of a formal definition of planet.
Pluto was moved into the list of Dwarf Planets along with Ceres and Eris.
Charon is Pluto's largest moon.

Kuiper belt

The Kuiper belt is a great ring of debris similar to the asteroid belt, but consisting
mainly of objects composed primarily of ice.
It extends between 30 and 50 AU from the Sun.

Other Solar System Objects


A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the Sun, heats
up and begins to outgas, displaying a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a
tail. [Comets have highly elliptical orbits]
These phenomena are due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the
nucleus of the comet.
They are made of frozen gases (water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide) which
hold together small pieces of rocky and metallic minerals.
Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt or its associated scattered disc, which
lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.
One of the larger comets is the Halley's Comet. The orbit of Halley's Comet brings it
close to the Earth every 76 years. It last visited in 1986.

Any solid debris origination from asteroids or comets or from outer space that fall to the
Earth, the Moon, or another planet in the solar system.
Meteor is a body of matter travelling at a great speed through space which becomes
luminous when enters into the atmosphere (mesosphere) at about 200 km above the
Earth's surface, because it is heated by friction. Generally, this latter process dissipates
the material into meteoric dust.
A meteor is popularly termed a shooting star or falling star. [Dont get confused
between comet and meteor]
Largest Meteor Crater: A meteor crater in Arizona (USA) is 1,300 m deep is the largest
meteor crater in the world. It was formed over 10,000 years ago.

Solar System - Relevant Facts

Relative size of Planets
The Sun compared to the planets

Planets in the ascending Temperature in C

order of proximity to sun
Mercury +427
Venus +480 Venus has higher surface temperature than
Mercury because of greenhouse effect. [Venus has an
atmosphere about ninety times thicker than that of Earth,
and made almost entirely of carbon dioxide]
Earth +22
Mars -23
Jupiter -150
Saturn -180
Uranus -214
Neptune -220
Planets in the ascending Period of Rotation Period of Revolution
order of proximity to sun
Mercury 58 days 87 days
Venus 243 days 224 days
Earth 23:56 hrs 365d, 5:48
Mars 1.05 days 687 days
Jupiter 9 hrs 11.86 years
Saturn 10 hrs 29.46 years
Uranus 17 hrs 84.01 years
Neptune 16 hrs 164.8 years
Planets No of Known Moons
Mercury 0
Venus 0
Earth 1
Mars 2
Jupiter 67
Saturn 62
Uranus 27
Neptune 13
Planets Rank according to size
Mercury 8
Venus 6
Earth 5
Mars 7
Jupiter 1
Saturn 2
Uranus 3
Neptune 4
Heliocentric vs. Geocentric
Heliocentric system is an astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve
around a relatively stationary Sun at the center of the Solar System.
Remember the name of the man who first suggested this model?
Geocentric model (Earth at the center) was proposed by Ptolemy.

Kepler's laws of planetary motion

1. The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
2. A line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal
intervals of time.
3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major
axis of its orbit.

Why is Venus sometimes called Earth's twin?

almost the same size,

have about the same mass (they weigh about the same), and
have a very similar composition (are made of the same material).
They are also neighboring planets.

However, Venus and Earth are also very different

Venus has an atmosphere that is about 100 times thicker than Earth's and has surface
temperatures that are extremely hot.
Venus does not have life or water oceans like Earth does.
Venus also rotates backwards compared to Earth and the other planets.

Mars Compared to Earth

53% the diameter of Earth.

10% the mass of Earth.
Surface gravity on Mars is only 38% the gravity on Earth.
A day on Mars lasts 1.03 Earth days.
Axial tilt on Mars is 25.19 degrees. Very close to Earths 23.5 degree tilt.
A year on Mars lasts about twice as long as an Earth year, the seasons are twice as long.
The atmosphere of Mars is less than 1% the thickness of Earths atmosphere.
Furthermore, its made up of 95% carbon dioxide.

Ecliptic Plane

Most large objects in orbit around the Sun lie near the plane of Earth's orbit, known as
the ecliptic.
The planets are very close to the ecliptic, whereas comets and Kuiper belt objects are
frequently at significantly greater angles to it.

Important fact

All the planets except VENUS and URANUS rotate in anti-clockwise direction (when
viewed from far higher of North pole).

The Moon

It is now generally believed that the formation of moon, as a satellite of the earth, is an
outcome of giant impact or what is described as the big splat.
A body of the size of one to three times that of mars collided into the earth sometime
shortly after the earth was formed. It blasted a large part of the earth into space.
This portion of blasted material then continued to orbit the earth and eventually formed
into the present moon about 4.44 billion years ago.
Its diameter is only one-quarter that of the earth.
It is about 3, 84,400 km away from us.
The moon moves around the earth in about 27 days. It takes exactly the same
time to complete one spin. As a result, only one side of the moon is visible to us
on the earth.
Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the surface of the moon on 29 July 1969.
Suns Internal Structure and Atmosphere
The solar interior, from the inside out, is made up of the core, radiative zone and the
convective zone.
The solar atmosphere above that consists of the photosphere, chromosphere, and the
corona (solar wind is an outflow of gas from the corona).


The photosphere is the bright outer layer of the Sun that emits most of the radiation.
The photosphere is an extremely uneven surface.
The effective temperature on the outer side of the photosphere is 6000K (11,000F).


Just above the photosphere is the chromosphere.

It is relatively a thin layer of burning gases.


A dark patch on the surface of the Sun is known as sunspot.

Sunspots appear as dark areas because they are about 1500 cooler than the
surrounding chromospheres.
The individual sunspot has a lifetime ranging from a few days to a few months.
Each spot has a black center or umbra, and a lighter region or penumbra, surrounding
It has been suggested that the Sun is 1% cooler when it has no spot, and that this
variation in solar radiation might affect the climates of the Earth.

Solar Wind

Solar wind is a stream of energized, charged particles, primarily electrons and protons,
flowing outward from the Sun at speeds as high as 900 km/s and at a temperature of 1
million degrees (Celsius).
It is made of plasma (ionized atoms).
Effects of solar wind

As the solar wind approaches a planet that has a well-developed magnetic field (such
as Earth, Jupiter and Saturn), the particles are deflected.
This region, known as the magnetosphere, causes the particles to travel around the
planet rather than bombarding the atmosphere or surface.
The magnetosphere is roughly shaped like a hemisphere on the side facing the Sun,
then is drawn out in a long trail on the opposite side.
The boundary of this region is called the magnetopause, and some of the particles are
able to penetrate the magnetosphere through this region by partial reconnection of the
magnetic field lines.
The solar wind is responsible for the overall shape of Earth's magnetosphere.
Moreover, planets with a weak or non-existent magnetosphere are subject to
atmospheric stripping by the solar wind.
Venus, the nearest and most similar planet to Earth in the Solar System, has an
atmosphere 100 times denser than our own, with little or no geo-magnetic field. This
is an exception.

Solar flares

Solar flares are produced on the suns surface due to magnetic anomalies.
They are magnetic storms on the Sun which appears to be very bright spots with
gaseous surface eruption.
As solar flares push through the corona, they heat its gas to anywhere from 10 to 20
million C.

Solar prominence

An arc of gas that erupts from the surface of the Sun is called solar prominence.
Prominences can loop hundreds of thousands of miles into space.
Prominences are held above the Sun's surface by strong magnetic fields and can last for
many months.
At some time in their existence, most prominences will erupt, spewing enormous
amounts of solar material into space.

A corona is a distinctive atmosphere of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other
celestial bodies.
The Sun's corona extends millions of kilometers into space and is most easily seen
during a total solar eclipse


Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, the others being solid, liquid,
and gas.
Plasma is simply ionized gas [convert (an atom, molecule, or substance) into an ion or
ions, typically by removing one or more electrons]
Lightning and electric sparks are everyday examples of phenomena made from plasma.
Neon lights could more accurately be called plasma lights, because the light comes
from the plasma inside of them.


An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude
(Arctic and Antarctic) regions. [This is due to magnetic field lines of earth]
Auroras are caused by charged particles, mainly electrons and protons, entering the
atmosphere from above causing ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents,
and consequent optical emissions.