|sun (sŭn) Pronunciation Key
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Often Sun. A medium-sized, main-sequence star located in a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, orbited by all of the planets and other bodies in our solar system and supplying the heat and light that sustain life on Earth. Its diameter is approximately 1.4 million km (868,000 mi), and its mass, about 330,000 times that of Earth, comprises more than 99 percent of the matter in the solar system. It has a temperature of some 16 million degrees C (27 million degrees F) at its core, where nuclear fusion produces tremendous amounts of energy, mainly through the series of reactions known as the proton-proton chain. The energy generated in the core radiates through a radiation zone to an opaque convection zone, where it rises to the surface through convection currents of the Sun's plasma. The Sun's surface temperature (at its photosphere) is approximately 6,200 degrees C (11,200 degrees F). Turbulent surface phenomena analogous to the Earth's weather are prevalent, including magnetic storms, sunspots, and solar flares. The Sun was formed along with the rest of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago and is expected to run out of its current hydrogen fuel in another 5 billion years, at which point it will develop into a red giant and ultimately into a white dwarf. See Table at solar system. See Note at dwarf star.