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Is the sun a blue green star?

The sun, which is the star at the center of our solar system, appears yellow to the naked eye. However, the sun’s apparent color can vary slightly depending on atmospheric conditions. While the sun may never truly appear blue or green to observers on Earth, there are some interesting scientific perspectives on the sun’s true color and temperature.

The Sun’s Surface Temperature and Composition

The surface temperature of the sun is about 5,770 Kelvin. For reference, the Kelvin temperature scale sets absolute zero at 0 K, equivalent to -273.15 degrees Celsius. So the sun’s surface temperature is extremely hot in absolute terms.

However, in terms of stellar classification, the sun is considered a G-type main-sequence star, also known as a yellow dwarf star. This classification is based on the sun’s surface temperature, as well as its composition which is primarily hydrogen and helium.

Element Abundance
Hydrogen 73.46%
Helium 24.85%
Oxygen 0.77%
Carbon 0.29%
Iron 0.16%
Neon 0.12%
Nitrogen 0.09%
Silicon 0.07%
Magnesium 0.05%
Sulfur 0.04%

As this table shows, hydrogen and helium make up over 98% of the sun’s composition. This composition fits the profile of a G-type main-sequence star.

The Sun’s Visible Light Emissions

The sun’s emissions peak in the visible light spectrum, which is what makes it appear yellowish in color to human eyes. However, the sun also emits light across a broad range of wavelengths.

Here is a breakdown of the sun’s emissions across the full electromagnetic spectrum:

Wavelength range Percentage of emissions
Gamma rays Less than 0.000000000000001%
X-rays 0.0000000001%
Ultraviolet 0.000000005%
Visible light 0.00005%
Infrared 0.000000005%
Microwaves 0.00000001%
Radio waves 0.0000001%

As you can see, the vast majority of the sun’s emissions are outside the visible spectrum. But the peak in the visible light range around yellow-green hues gives the sun its characteristic color as viewed from Earth.

Why the Sun Appears Yellow, White, or Reddish

As light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere, some wavelengths are scattered more than others. This selective scattering, along with other factors like pollution and moisture in the air, can make the sun appear more yellow, white, or reddish-orange at different times.

Here are some of the main factors that influence the sun’s apparent color:

  • Particles in the air scatter blue light more, making the sun appear more yellow.
  • Increased moisture in the air can make the sun appear more white.
  • Sunset colors are caused by longer wavelengths like red penetrating the atmosphere better.
  • Dust, pollution, and particles can skew sunlight towards red and orange hues.
  • Clouds scatter light uniformly and can make the sun look whiter.

While the sun peaks at a yellow-green wavelength, the actual color we perceive is significantly influenced by Earth’s atmosphere. The sun itself does not drastically change color.

Surface Temperature vs. Overall Temperature

When we talk about the sun’s surface temperature of around 5,770 K, this only refers to the outermost layer called the photosphere. As we look deeper inside the sun, temperatures increase considerably.

Here is an overview of the temperatures at different layers within the sun:

Layer Temperature (K)
Photosphere 5,700
Chromosphere 10,000 – 20,000
Transition Region 100,000 – 200,000
Corona 1,000,000 – 2,000,000
Core 15,000,000

As this shows, while the visible surface of the sun is around 5,700 K, the core can reach up to 15,000,000 K! So the sun gets extremely hot the deeper down we look.

What Colors Would the Sun Appear at Different Temperatures?

Using the temperature measurements of the different layers of the sun, we can get an idea of what color the sun would appear if we could see those layers directly.

Here are the approximate colors the sun would appear at increasing temperatures, based on blackbody radiation physics:

Temperature (K) Perceived Color
5,000 Yellowish white
10,000 Blueish white
50,000 Blue
100,000 Bluish violet
1,000,000 Brilliant blue
15,000,000 Bluish white

Interestingly, at both very low and extremely high temperatures, the sun would appear whitish. But at intermediate temperatures, especially from 10,000 K to 100,000 K, the sun would take on more blue and violet hues.


In summary, while the sun’s visible surface appears yellowish, its emissions peak in the green-yellow part of the spectrum. The sun’s appearance can vary based on atmospheric conditions on Earth, but the sun itself does not radically change color.

If we could see layers beneath the surface, the sun would likely appear blue or blue-white given their higher temperatures. But the core temperature of 15 million K would again make the innermost layers appear whitish.

So while the sun may never look distinctly blue or green from our vantage point on Earth, understanding the sun’s thermal profile shows how its appearance would change at different layers inward.