Physicists have unraveled the two processes powering the sun

16th Jul 2020

Physicists have discovered a new class of neutrinos that power the sun, meaning they have discovered the full spectrum of the two processes that power the sun. The sun is powered by two sets of nuclear fusion reactions that exist within the sun’s core. Both of these nuclear fusion reactions predominate the sun’s core and produce the lightweight subatomic particles in abundance. 

Within the sun’s core exists an ongoing process when hydrogen fuses into helium in two ways. The first way is called the ‘proton-proton-proton’ chain. This chain expels about 99% of the sun’s energy. The other group however are the fusion reactions mentioned above. This is known as the CNO cycle which is named after Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Previously the neutrons from the CNO cycle were undiscovered, until now. 

Now, for the first time, neutrinos from the second set of reactions (CNO Cycle) have been spotted. This was discovered through the Borexino experiment. You can read more about the experiment here