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Date: 1993 - 1999


Question:
A second grader at the school where I teach recently asked this question, "how do the fires burn on the sun when there is no oxygen in space?" His teacher had no clue how to answer this question. Me, being the media specialist had no clue or the proper resources to answer it. Can you help me? Thanks


Replies:
The Sun doesn't need oxygen to "burn" because it uses nuclear fuel: it's like a giant, slow-burning hydrogen bomb. In particular, it derives its energy from the nuclear fusion of the hydrogen and helium that make up virtually all the mass of the Sun.

Actually, though one of the important fusion cycles in the sun does require some of the heavier elements besides just hydrogen and helium - I think boron and carbon at least are important...

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