An atmosphere (New Latin atmosphaera, created in the 17th century from Greek ἀτμός "vapor" and σφαῖρα "sphere") is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low. Some planets consist mainly of various gases, but only their outer layer is their atmosphere.
The term stellar atmosphere describes the outer region of a star, and typically includes the portion starting from the opaque photosphere outwards. Relatively low-temperature stars may form compound molecules in their outer atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere, which contains oxygen used by most organisms for respiration and carbon dioxide used by plants, algae and cyanobacteria for photosynthesis, also protects living organisms from genetic damage by solar ultraviolet radiation. Its current composition is the product of billions of years of biochemical modification of the paleoatmosphere by living organisms.
Famous quotes containing the word atmosphere:
“We must be generously willing to leave for a time the narrow boundaries in which our individual lives are passed ... In this fresh, breezy atmosphere ... we will be surprised to find that many of our familiar old conventional truths look very queer indeed in some of the sudden side lights thrown upon them.”
—Bertha Honore Potter Palmer (18491918)
“The atmosphere parents wish to create when talking with children about birth and reproduction is warm, honest, and reassuring, one that tells children they are free to ask questions as often as they need to, and you will answer them as lovingly as you know how.”
—Joanna Cole (20th century)
“And so I look on those sentiments which make the glory of the human being, love, humility, faith, as being also the intimacy of Divinity in the atoms; and, that, as soon as the man is right, assurances and previsions emanate from the interior of his body and his mind; as, when flowers reach their ripeness, incence exhales from them, and, as a beautiful atmosphere is generated from the planet by the averaged emanations from all its rocks and soils.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)