Solar radius

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Conversion of solar radius
1 R = Units
6.95700×108 metres
695,700 kilometres
0.00465047 astronomical unit
432,288 miles
7.35355×10−8 light-year
2.25461×10−8 parsec
2.32061 light-seconds

Solar radius is a unit of distance used to express the size of stars in astronomy. The solar radius is usually defined as the radius to the layer in the Sun's photosphere where the optical depth equals 2/3:

The solar radius is approximately 695,700 kilometres (432,288 miles), which is about 10 times the average radius of Jupiter, 110 times the radius of the Earth, and 1/215th of an astronomical unit, the distance of the Earth from the Sun. It varies slightly from pole to equator due to its rotation, which induces an oblateness in the order of 10 parts per million. (See 1 gigametre for similar distances.)[1]

The unmanned SOHO spacecraft was used to measure the radius of the Sun by timing transits of Mercury across the surface during 2003 and 2006. The result was a measured radius of 696,342 ± 65 kilometres (432,687 ± 40 miles).[2]

Haberreiter, Schmutz & Kosovichev (2008)[3] determined the radius corresponding to the solar photosphere to be 695,660 ± 140 kilometres (432,263 ± 87 miles). This new value is consistent with helioseismic estimates; the same study showed that previous estimates using inflection point methods had been overestimated by approximately 300 km.

Nominal solar radius[edit]

In 2015, the International Astronomical Union passed Resolution B3, which defined a set of nominal conversion constants for stellar and planetary astronomy. Resolution B3 defined the nominal solar radius (symbol ) to be equal to exactly 695,700 km.[4] The nominal values were adopted to help astronomers avoid confusion when quoting stellar radii in units of the Sun's radius, even when future observations will likely refine the Sun's actual photospheric radius (which is currently only known to about the +-100-200 km accuracy).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NASA RHESSI oblateness measurements 2012
  2. ^ Emilio, Marcelo; Kuhn, Jeff R.; Bush, Rock I.; Scholl, Isabelle F., Measuring the Solar Radius from Space during the 2003 and 2006 Mercury Transits, arXiv:1203.4898free to read, Bibcode:2012ApJ...750..135E, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/750/2/135 
  3. ^ Haberreiter, M; Schmutz, W; Kosovichev, A.G., "Solving the Discrepancy between the Seismic and Photospheric Solar Radius", Astrophysical Journal, 675 (1): L53–L56, doi:10.1086/529492 
  4. ^ Mamajek, E.E.; Prsa, A.; Torres, G.; et, al., IAU 2015 Resolution B3 on Recommended Nominal Conversion Constants for Selected Solar and Planetary Properties, arXiv:1510.07674free to read, Bibcode:2015arXiv151007674M 

External links[edit]