What lights the Sun?

by Gayatri Savarkar (FYBSc)

Since childhood, we have been hearing that the sun is a ball of fire. Well, not really. Or at least not the kind of fire we see every day on Earth. Ordinary fires can be explained using chemical reactions, and these reactions cannot generate enough energy to power a star for billions of years. The sun generates huge amounts of energy each second. Until the end of the nineteenth century, humans could not figure out how the Sun manages to generate all this energy. For a reasonable explanation, we had to wait until the development of quantum mechanics and Einstein's famous equation: E=mc². What could this equation possibly have to do with our Sun? Let's find out as we trace the journey of light as it is generated in the core of our Sun and travels all the way to the Earth, to finally reach our eyes. It's a long journey, but full of amazing phenomena. Let's get started.

Fusion: Let there be light