The Loh Down On Science

Our Perfect Sun

Have you ever wondered why the sun is perfectly round?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, well you should! It's not obvious why.

Think of this: If you spin a water balloon in the air, it'll flatten out a little. Spinning liquids flatten out--so the sun should be pudgy around the middle.

The sun, which spins really fast, is not solid. So it shouldn't be round! Yet it is!

New measurements show that if the sun were scaled down to the size of a beach ball, the difference between the diameter at the equator versus the diameter at the poles would be less than the width of a human hair. That's round!

Astronomers used a satellite camera to get the most accurate measure yet of the star's perfection. And … yup! Perfect. Always! Even during the otherwise dramatic changes of its 11-year solar cycle.

The scientists suspect other forces, like magnetism and turbulence, must fight the bulge.

Wish my turbulence would fight my bulge! Then again, unlike the sun, I'm not perfect.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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