PAUL WOOTTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL WOOTTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Solar structure, cutaway computer artwork. At the sun's core (white) hydrogen atoms undergo nuclear fusion, producing helium atoms and releasing heat and light energy as photons. These radiate outwards through the inner region (radiative zone, yellow) to the outer convection zone layer (orange and yellow). Here, solar plasma rises in thermal columns to the visible surface (photosphere). Intense magnetic fields on the surface of the sun inhibit convection, causing some areas to have lower temperatures than others (sunspots, dark spots). These also cause solar prominences (loops), where charged gas is drawn across areas of opposite polarity.
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