For those who think that the Sun is actually yellow, that is not its true color. And on Tuesday, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly confirmed this space fact.
The real color of the Sun is actually white and the reason the dwarf star generally looks yellow is because of a strange play of physics of light which makes the sun appear yellow most of the time. The sunlight is essentially all colors mixed together, which appear to our eyes as white. But this is only easy to see in pictures taken from space.
I can confirm this space fact. https://t.co/lLzcKgklvD
– Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) September 12, 2022
The sun appears yellow due to our atmosphere. But once you leave the Earth’s atmosphere, the Sun appears white rather than any single color. This is due to how our eyes see color.
We are unable to perceive a singular color of the sun because the amount of sunlight simply saturates the photoreceptor cells in our eyes, causing all the colors to be mushed together. When every color of light is combined, you end up with white. Thus, the sun appears yellow on Earth and white in space.
On Earth, the atmosphere also plays a role in the color of the Sun. According to NASA, since shorter wavelength blue light is scattered more efficiently than longer wavelength red light, we lose some of the blue tints of the sun as sunlight passes through the atmosphere. In addition, all wavelengths of visible light passing through our atmosphere are attenuated so that the light that reaches our eyes does not immediately saturate the cone receptors.
“This allows the brain to perceive color from the image with a little less blue-yellow. Though it does not affect what our eyes see, all x-ray and gamma-ray radiation is filtered out before it comes close to the ground. Most UV is absorbed by stratospheric ozone (above 10km) and most IR is absorbed by water vapor and other molecules with non-zero dipole moments, “the US space agency explained.
Further, it also added that when the sunlight passes through a lot of atmospheres as is the case of sunrises and sunsets, even more, blue light is scattered and a much greater percentage of the longest wavelength (red) light makes it to our eyes.