Race to Space: The True Story of Today’s Sunlight

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Ever feel like the sun is far away? Right now, no matter where you are or what time it is, trillions of particles are passing through your body that were in the center of the sun less than ten minutes ago.

The sun’s source of energy is in its core. Immense pressure from gravity results in extreme temperatures, causing particles to speed up and slam into each other. When the right combinations of particles collide with enough force they fuse together forming new atoms. The sun is a massive particle smasher working 24/7. This process releases energy in different forms. The one everyone knows best is photons, a.k.a. light. Another is a particle we cannot see, called a neutrino.

These particles are passing through you right now. Nearly all neutrinos released in the center of the sun stream uninhibited out of the core close to light speed in all directions. Once created, most neutrinos travel through the sun to us in less than ten minutes, and pass through earth like it’s not even there. These byproducts of atoms fused in the center of the sun about nine minutes ago, are now streaming through your body by the trillions. Neutrino particles move so quickly, the ones that were in you when starting this sentence are now zipping through space.

However, light doesn’t escape the sun so quickly. After release during atom smashing, photons are absorbed and emitted by surrounding particles. Unlike neutrinos which are neutral, light is constantly being swallowed and spat out in random directions, slowly traveling to the surface of the sun, where it’s free to speed through the vacuum of space. The journey of photons from the sun’s core to earth takes around 100,000 years.

Energy in today’s daylight was released from fusion in the sun before civilization as we know it existed. Although today’s daylight is ancient energy, it’s mixed in with neutrinos released less than ten minutes ago. Similarly, the light that will shine on earth in the year 102,012 AD will be from the same collisions that released neutrinos passing through you right now.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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