I suddenly became curious that why the sun doesn't burn out at once?

What makes the sun burn gradually?


marked as duplicate by Kyle Kanos, fibonatic, Bill N, user36790, user10851 Feb 7 '16 at 5:00

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    $\begingroup$ Did you try e.g. reading the Wikipedia article on the sun, or on stars in general? $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Feb 6 '16 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Nice comment. I should get some sleep. My brain is literally not working :( $\endgroup$ – Genie Feb 6 '16 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ If you suddenly get curious, google it, wikipedia it first, for the basis (or more). It you don't understand or want to go further, then come here. $\endgroup$ – Fabrice NEYRET Feb 6 '16 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ The reaction cross section σ is a measure of the probability of a fusion reaction as a function of the relative velocity of the two reactant nuclei ( wiki ) . Search for cross section on wikipedia.org. Then consider that cross sections of the reactions are so that it takes some billions years to "burn the fuel(s)" $\endgroup$ – user46925 Feb 7 '16 at 0:19

Short answer: like often, it's a balance between opposite trends:

  • self-gravity causing collapsing thus densification build huge pressure that permit nuclear fusion
  • high-temperature and pression caused by these reactions inflate the star which decrease the amount of reaction (or might even stop them if inflating too much).

As long as everything is slow enough, it reaches a balance: the size at which collapse forces = repulsive forces. Which slows down the nuclear oven.

(NB: this balance will change when one of the nuclear fuel will get exhausted. Then the cycle again: more collapse, more density, triggers a new kind of fusion with the next atomic fuel (requiring more density), thus repulsion continue, but with balance at a shorter radius. And when there is no fusionable fuel at all, sudden collapse with no counter-force, resulting in a violent bounce at center resulting in supernovae explosion, + possibly a residual neutron star or a black hole).

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this answers the question. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 6 '16 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ "inflates and slow down the reactions" => "don't burn at once" $\endgroup$ – Fabrice NEYRET Feb 7 '16 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ Except that isn't true. Getting two proton atoms to fuse, however, will take some time. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 7 '16 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this remark relates to what I said :-) $\endgroup$ – Fabrice NEYRET Feb 8 '16 at 0:37

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