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Why Is the Sun Losing So Much Mass?

Updated May 16, 2024
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The Sun is a marvel to behold. And while there is no denying that the Sun is huge, it is losing an incredible amount of mass all the time. In fact, the combination of solar wind and nuclear fusion results in the loss of 5 million tons of mass every second.

Solar wind is made up of particles such as electrons and protons that are flung off of the Sun at high speeds. With the use of satellites, scientists have been able to discover that approximately 300 million protons are flying around in solar wind every second. And although equal numbers of electrons and protons are shed, protons are made up of far more mass. The Sun sheds an astounding 1.5 million tons every second due to the loss of these protons.

Fusion refers to the process of converting hydrogen atoms into helium. The difference in mass between the two elements is converted into energy and released as light. Due to nuclear fusion, researchers have calculated that the Sun loses around 4 million tons of mass in the form of energy every second.

Yet despite constantly losing so much mass, astronomers maintain that there is no concern about losing our star any time soon. In fact, the Sun has only lost approximately 0.05% of its total mass during its lifetime of 4.5 billion years.

All about the Sun:

  • The Sun is 300,000 times more massive than the Earth and over 100 times as wide. It would take more than a million Earths to fit inside the Sun.

  • Around 99.8% of the entire solar system’s mass is contained within the Sun.

  • For the Sun to collapse and create a black hole, it would need to contain 20 times more mass.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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