Sunlight

Sunlight is a portion of the electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun, in particular infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. On Earth, sunlight is scattered and filtered through Earth's atmosphere, and is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon. When direct solar radiation is not blocked by clouds, it is experienced as sunshine, a combination of bright light and radiant heat. When blocked by clouds or reflected off other objects, sunlight is diffused. Sources estimate a global average of between 164 watts to 340 watts[1] per square meter over a 24-hour day;[2] this figure is estimated by NASA to be about a quarter of Earth's average total solar irradiance.

The Sun, as seen from low Earth orbit overlooking the International Space Station. This sunlight is not filtered by the lower atmosphere, which blocks much of the solar spectrum.
Sunlight shining upon two different sides of the U.S. state of New Jersey. Sunrise on the Jersey Shore at Spring Lake, Monmouth County (above), and sunset on the Shore at Sunset Beach, Cape May County (below). Both are filtered through high stratus clouds.
Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. Taken on 20 October 1968 from Apollo 7.

The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight has both positive and negative health effects, as it is both a requisite for vitamin D3 synthesis and a mutagen.

Sunlight takes about 8.3 minutes to reach Earth from the surface of the Sun.[3] A photon starting at the center of the Sun and changing direction every time it encounters a charged particle would take between 10,000 and 170,000 years to get to the surface.[4]

Sunlight is a key factor in photosynthesis, the process used by plants and other autotrophic organisms to convert light energy, normally from the Sun, into chemical energy that can be used to synthesize carbohydrates and to fuel the organisms' activities.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Sunlight, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.