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CosmosUp | November 25, 2020

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5 False Conceptions About Space

By | On + -

The Sun

The Sun is one of the first things you study when learning about space. It’s a big fiery ball that all the planets spin around, and it’s just far enough away that it keeps us warm, but doesn’t cause us all to burst into flames. Given that we could never have existed were it not for the heat and light given off by the Sun, it’s surprising that so many of us have a pretty basic misconception about it: that it’s on fire.

If you’ve ever burnt yourself on a flame then congratulations, you’ve had more fire on you than the sun ever has or will. In reality, the sun is a big ball of gas that gives off light and heat energy through nuclear fusion, which occurs when two hydrogen atoms combine and form helium. So the Sun does give off light and heat, but there is no conventional fire involved at all. It is simply a giant, warm glow.

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  1. Fredrik Bonde

    You would lose heat in space, albeit slowly, by radiation. That’s the reason why ISS have those big radiators.

  2. Simon

    Actually, most comets have 2 tails. One tail reacting to the solar wind as you described, the ion gas tail, the other due to ablation when larger particles are shed behind the comet due to solar heating, the dust tail.

  3. Scott

    The amount of scientific inaccuracies in this article are beyond me. Learn what plasma is and thermal dynamics before you start making articles about ridiculous concepts.

    “So the Sun does give off light and heat, but there is no conventional fire involved at all. It is simply a giant, warm glow.”

    Yup a warm glow of several thousands of degrees of super heated gases called plasma, yeah no fire but isn’t just a warm glow. At least explain what plasma is to people.

  4. paul van den Bergen

    The gaseous tail of comets is so nebulous and thin as to be almost indistinguishable from a vacuum. If you were inside it you wouldn’t be able to tell. They are bright because they are big, many 1000 ‘ times bigger than the nucleus of the comet.

  5. Jeff

    Awkward! Black holes are not planets. They are actually dead stars.

  6. BGriffin

    The title is one of few things in this article that got reasonably close to the truth.
    A better name would be;
    “More Misconceptions Than You Want to Count”.
    It would be a good idea to clarify that the article serves as an example of the misconceptions and does not delve into why the ideas are wrong, nor offer any well vetted alternatives.

  7. TomW

    The big misconception I often have to debunk is ”there’s no gravity in space”. People thinking that spacecraft just hang there in weightlessness, not understanding what an orbit is, and thinking that rockets just go straight up into space and once they’re out of the atmosphere that’s it!

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