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 process
Name: Gina D Mille
Status: Other
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

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...

A Smith

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.


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 (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

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

Argonne National Laboratory