Picture of the Day

Underground experiment confirms what powers the sun

Pictured above is the Borexino detector showing inner sphere of scintillator, buffer sphere, and detectors. Scientists have long believed that the power of the sun comes largely from the fusion of protons into helium, but now they can finally prove it. Using this detector, an international team of researchers has identified neutrinos—ghostly particles that interact only very reluctantly with matter—streaming from the heart of the sun. Other solar neutrinos have been detected before, but these particular ones come from the key proton-proton fusion reaction that is the first part of a chain of reactions that provides 99 percent of the sun’s power. The results also show that the sun is a remarkably steady power source.

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