Facts about the Sun's Photosphere

The portion of the sun we see is called the photosphere.
••• Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images

The surface of the sun, or photosphere, is a yellow-colored layer of thick, hot gases marked with dark spots, known as sunspots. It is the lowest visible layer of the sun.


The photosphere is 5,780 degrees Kelvin (K), which is relatively cool compared to the inside, measured in the millions of degrees, and the atmospheric edge, which is also measured in the millions of degrees.


The gases that make up the photosphere are completely opaque, meaning that you cannot see through them. Therefore, stating that the sun has “surface” is a misnomer, for the photosphere is not solid.


The photosphere is above the solar convection zone, where heat from the core radiates outward and below the chromosphere, where heat is transferred to the outer layer of the sun, called the corona.


The photosphere is constructed of convection cells called granules, which are cells of hot gas 1,000 km in diameter. Each granule lives 8 to 9 minutes, which produces a “boiling” effect.


Sunspots are cooler regions of the photosphere that appear dark because of their lower temperatures of 3,800 degrees K versus 5,780 degrees K. Sunspots can vary in size up to 50,000 km in diameter.

Related Articles

Unique Facts About the Sun
What Is the Average Temperature of Jupiter?
Three Major Characteristics of the Inner Planets
Describe the Surface Terrain on Jupiter
The Outer & Inner Parts of the Sun
The Characteristics of Comets, Meteors & Asteroids
Characteristics of a Star
What Is the Surface Terrain Like on Neptune?
How Does the Sun Release Energy?
What Are the Planets in Our Solar System Held in Their...
Facts About the Chromosphere of the Sun
How to Find Partial Pressures
Which Planets Are the Gas Planets?
What Causes the Thermosphere to Be So Hot?
Why Is the Sun So Bright?
How is the Sun Nuclear Energy?
Which Planet Is Considered Earth's Twin in Mass & Size?
What Are the Elements of Uranus?
What Is the Difference Between the Crust & the Lithosphere?

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!