Name: Gina D Mille
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.
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...
The Sun does not need oxygen to "burn" because it uses nuclear fuel: it is
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.
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Update: June 2012