What is the difference between a "star" and a "sun"? (Beginner)

Are all of the points of light in the night sky, other than the moon, planets, and artificial satellites, that we call stars also suns?

The Sun is a perfectly ordinary star -- a great, glowing ball of gas. In its core, it fuses hydrogen into helium, as all stars do for the majority of their lives, in order to generate enough pressure to avoid collapsing under its own gravity. In that sense, I think the answer to the question is "Yes."


A subtler aspect of this question might be whether other stars are "suns" in that they have planets of their own. In that case, the answer is "No, not quite." Planets are very common around other stars, orbiting as many as 30 percent of stars similar to the Sun. However, there are plenty of stars for which we have no evidence of orbiting planets.


This page updated on January 28, 2019

About the Author

Cathy Jordan

Cathy got her Bachelors degree from Cornell in May 2003 and her Masters of Education in May 2005. She did research studying the wind patterns on Jupiter while at Cornell. She is now an 8th grade Earth Sciences teacher in Natick, MA.