Cosmic Mystery: Why Is the Sun So Round?

It's one of the roundest objects ever measured
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2012 1:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – The sun is round... too round, say scientists. The giant star that bathes us in light is one of the most perfectly round objects ever measured. If it were shrunk to the size of a beach ball, the difference between the sun's widest and thinnest diameters would be slighter than a human hair, reports the Independent. Even though it has no solid surface, which should cause it to flatten and be misshapen as it rotates, new data shows there is much less flattening than expected.

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The new analysis, conducted by the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite, also shows that the sun's shape does not change in cycles as was previously thought. "While just about everything else in the sun changes along with its 11-year sunspot cycle, the shape doesn't," said the lead researcher. The scientists believe that hidden solar forces such as magnetism and turbulence could be generating an unexpected impact on its shape. (Read more The Sun stories.)

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