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Sun: Glossary

A

astronomy
the study of everything in space beyond the Earth's atmosphere
atoms
the smallest building blocks of all matter
auroras
bright bands of glowing light that appear in the skies near the polar regions, caused by the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and charged particles from the Sun.
axis
an imaginary straight line around which an object rotates

C

Coronal Mass Ejections
huge eruptions from the sun's surface that throw out up to 20 billion tons of matter, traveling a million or more miles per hour — the biggest, most violent solar explosions.

D

diameter
a straight line going through the center of a circle or sphere
dynamic
Active, energetic, and changeable; not static

F

fossil fuels
a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the past from the remains of living organisms.

G

galaxy
a collection of thousands to billions of stars held together by gravity
gravity
the attractive force of a body in space that pulls matter together

L

life cycle
the series of changes and developments through the course of a lifespan, beginning with birth or formation and ending with death or destruction.

M

magnetic field
the space around a star or planet where the magnetic force is active
meteorites
small chunks of rock from space that land on the Earth's surface

N

NASA
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the agency in charge of all space programs for the United States
nebula
a cloud of dust and gas in space in which a star is born
nuclear fusion
the process of joining two or more lightweight atoms to form one heavier atom, resulting in release of energy; nuclear fusion takes place in the Sun's core

O

orbit
the curved path followed by an object in space as it moves around another object.

P

photosynthesis
The process by which green plants use energy from the sun to make their food and release oxygen into the air
planets
spherical bodies in space that circles around a central star and reflects that star's light

R

radiation
the energy or particles released from explosions, chemical reactions, or radioactive materials
revolve
to move in an orbit around another object, for example: the Earth revolves around the Sun and the moon revolves around the Earth.
rotate
to spin around a center point or axis

S

satellites
objects that orbit another object, whether natural (the moon) or man-made (spacecraft)
solar cells
batteries or panels that can capture sunlight and turn it into electricity
solar eclipse
an event that takes place when the moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, blocking out the sun and casting a shadow on the Earth.
Solar flares
bursts of energy and particles from the sun that release gases, radiation, and magnetic storms
solar system
the Sun, and all the planets and other objects that orbit around it.
solar wind
the constant stream of particles and energy emitted by the Sun
star
a ball of shining gas, held together by its own gravity, that emits energy into space
Sunspots
a dark area on the sun's surface that is cooler than the area around it

T

telescope
an instrument that can make faraway things appear closer

U

universe
all of space, time, matter, and energy in existence
PBS
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