Mass of the Sun


Learning about the planets in our last few classes (RIP senior year) reaffirmed for me that the earth is indeed very small compared to the other planets in the solar system. But then I read that 99.8% of the mass in the solar system is still contained within the sun! Even though the gas giants are so massive, they’re still so small compared to the sun, and then the sun is an average size star with some stars up to 100 times bigger.

After every class, I feel deeply humbled by how small we are in the grand scale of things. But sometimes I read statistics like this that provide a new angle to appreciate just how much larger other objects are in the universe.

6 thoughts on “Mass of the Sun

  1. I also feel like this class has humbled me, I am just one small part in a very large universe. I did not know that the sun contained 99.8% of the mass of our solar system! I feel like it would be slightly smaller due to all the other parts (planets, etc) added together! I would like to know how much of the sun’s mass all humans on earth hold (is that even calculate-able?)


    1. Thank you for this comment. We have to come up with problems that we can solve for one of my graduate classes. Your question is calculable. I will let you know an answer if my group uses it.


    2. I calculated it and we are less than 0.01% of the sun’s mass. I did this by saying that the average human weighs 100kg which is 1e5g and multiplying it by 7 billion (7e9). This gives us the total mass of humans (7e14g). You then divide this by the Sun’s mass (2e33g). The actual ratio (7e14/2e33) is 3.5e-19 or 0.00000000000000000035. To make this a percent, it would be 0.000000000000000035% or 3.5e-17%.


  2. Wow, our tiny size really helps put things into perspective. However, little things can still have an enormous impact on our lives. Take COVID-19, for example. A microscopic virus is causing quite a ruckus, and we can’t even see it! If someone tried to tell me that the Earth now revolved around this little virus, I might believe them! But then I’d remember that there is no way a virus would create a big enough gravity well to keep objects in orbit! How many coronaviruses would it take to have the same mass as the Sun?


  3. This class continues to humble me as well. After reading your post, I’m left feeling microscopic in comparison to the rest of the universe, which I guess is our reality, but it’s weird to think/read about and still feel whole. I’m left wondering if there’s any astronomical evidence that we are significant in the grand scheme of things.


  4. This post caused me to reflect on our scale in the universe as well. How big the problems of our everyday life seem to us — but in reality, we are microscopic beings floating through space on an average sized rock. I think contextualizing our size in comparison to that of the universe helps to see past the issues we all face. The fact that our universe is expanding as well further blows my mind. Will we ever know the size of our universe?


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