Ask Ethan #108: Is there any “instant” sunlight? (Synopsis)

“Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?” -Rose Kennedy

It's a good thing that sunlight doesn't reach us simply from its moment of creation in the core of stars, otherwise we'd be bombarded with lethal gamma rays, rather than the life-giving UV, visible and infrared light we actually experience.

Image credit: Don Dixon of Image credit: Don Dixon of

But that doesn't mean it isn't possible that the ultimate form of direct sunlight -- light from a nuclear reaction in the Sun -- to reach us, does it? Today's Ask Ethan focuses on the possibility of "instant sunlight" in exactly that fashion.

Image credit: Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno University of Technology), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin. Image credit: Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno University of Technology), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin.

Is it possible? Come find out!

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Thank you for answering my question. The spirit was basically just to see if the surface being hot alone generates any light at all, as opposed to any nuclear fusion taking place there, so I'd call that a "yes" too, though from what you say it's minuscule compared to all that light from the core. Neat to see that the answer to my question can actually be seen for myself during a total solar eclipse. I've got every intention of catching the next one. It'll be a bit of a drive to get into the predicted "zone", but still fairly close compared to the previous ones I've been alive for.

Just to be sure, those are "safe" to look at during totality, right? I'd rather that not be the last thing I ever see.

Again, thanks for the answer, world's strongest astrophysicist.