Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Solar and planetary temperatures
Name: Emilio Vargas III
Status: Other
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
I am a 6th grade science teacher and my students want to know how scientist are able to determine the temperature of the Sun's surface and it is core. Also the temps of the other planets in our solar system, especially pluto.



Replies:
The temperature of the surface of the Sun can be determined in various ways. We know how much energy we receive on Earth per unit time over a unit area facing the Sun. Then knowing the distance to the Sun, we can estimate total energy being emitted by the Sun. The total energy emitted per unit time per unit area is related to temperature in a known way. This can be used to find the Surface temperature of the Sun.

Sun is a gaseous sphere and it seems to be a stable object. Our existence tells us about the stability of the Sun. We think that gravity holds the Sun together. In that case the gas pressure must be enough to balance the gravitational force. We know the relation between gas pressure and temperature, this is then used to calculate the core temperature. This is the simplest method I know of, other methods take into account some other effects as well but answers do not change much.

Temperature of Planets is measured in a slightly more complicated way. Known properties of reflected light are used to probe the reflecting material, in the planets' atmosphere.

Jasjeet S Bagla



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory