Is it true that the Sun burns off a billion tons of gas every 5 seconds? (Beginner)

I heard an incredible claim that the Sun burns off a billion tons of gas every 5 seconds. Is this true?

It is true that the Sun burns several hundred million tons of hydrogen per second, converting it to helium by nuclear fusion. This the source of the Sun's energy, and if the Sun were consuming gas at less than this rate, then we would not get the required warmth to support life. However, there is no cause of alarm, because there is a HUGE amount of hydrogen in the Sun. The total mass of the sun is 2 x 1033 grams, out of which a small fraction of it is be used for nuclear reactions. If you calculate the age of the Sun based on the amount of gas consumed per second, you will find that the Sun can live for about 10 billion years.

This page was last updated June 28, 2015.

About the Author

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep built a new receiver for the Arecibo radio telescope that works between 6 and 8 GHz. He studies 6.7 GHz methanol masers in our Galaxy. These masers occur at sites where massive stars are being born. He got his Ph.D from Cornell in January 2007 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Insitute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. After that, he worked at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii as the Submillimeter Postdoctoral Fellow. Jagadheep is currently at the Indian Institute of Space Scence and Technology.

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