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Screenshot of BBC World Service The Compass programme episode
Professor William Chaplin was interviewed for BBC World Service's The Compass episode on 'The Sun, Our Star'. Image: BBC World Service

All life on Earth relies on energy from the Sun but how much do we really know about our nearest star? William Chaplin, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham, recently contributed a BBC World Service programme designed to improve our understanding.

In the episode, titled The Sun, Our Star, Professor Chaplin explains how our sun formed from gaseous material cast off by other stars, and how nuclear fusion reactions in its core generate the vast sums of energy needed to keep the Sun shining, in turn providing the energy essential for life on Earth. The episode forms part of a series of five radio programmes which seek to provide listeners with a better understanding of our nearest star. They form part of a larger series of programme known as The Compass, which explore different aspects of our world.

Professor Chaplin's group runs the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network (BiSON), which is a global network of automated telescopes that observe oscillations of the Sun. He also leads international teams working on data from the NASA TESS Mission, observing other Sun-like stars.

The episode in which Professor Chaplin features was first broadcast on BBC World Service on Wednesday 5 December. You can listen to the full programme online by following the link below. Professor Chaplin's contribution starts at  5 minutes and 40 seconds and ends at 6 minutes and 52 seconds.

The Compass - The Sun, Our Star