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The Question

(Submitted May 18, 1997)

This is not high priority but would you please tell me how many times the Earth would fit inside the sun?

The Answer

Your question was forwarded from StarChild to our Ask a NASA Scientist service on Imagine the Universe!

There are two ways to think about the size of the earth with respect to the sun.

First, the Sun's diameter is about 100 times that of the Earth. So, you'd have to line up 100 Earth's end-to-end to stretch across the face of the sun.

The second way to think about it is your question: how many Earth's would fit inside the sun. Imagine the you had a big, round, fish-bowl and a bunch of marbles. Now imagine that the diameter of the fish bowl was 100x the diameter of the each marble. That way, 100 marbles would stretch end to end across the fish bowl. Now, how many marbles will fit in the fish bowl? This is like asking your question about the Earth and the Sun.

As it turns out, we can stretch the marbles across the fish bowl in three directions, up/down, in/out and left/right, and everywhere in between. So,to fill the bowl we would need 100x100x100 = 1,000,000 marbles. Or, about 1,000,000 Earths would fit inside the sun.

Jonathan Keohane and Jim Lochner
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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