Astronomers have been able to detect ethereal particles known as Neutrinos for the first time. These particles can be found in the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen fusion or CNO fusion inside the sun. Experts have said that it is a milestone discovery, which proves abstract forecast from the 1930s. It will be hailed as one of the biggest findings in physics of the new millennium. The findings of this large-scale study have been published in the journal Nature. In the study, scientists have used an ultrasensitive Borexino detector at the INFN’s Gran Sasso particle physics laboratory in Italy. It is the largest underground research center in the world. It is located deep under the Apennine Mountains, nearly 65 miles northeast of Rome. The new finding culminates the decade-long study of neutrinos in the sun by the Borexino Project. This research has been able to find the main nuclear reaction, which is used by the stars to fuse hydrogen into helium.
Experts have said that almost all the stars including the sun release a huge amount of energy by fusing hydrogen into helium. Scientists put it as an effective way of burning hydrogen. Hydrogen is the richest element and the main source of fuel in the universe. Nearly 99 percent of the energy of the sun comes from proton-proton fusion, which produces beryllium, lithium, and boron prior to dividing them into helium. However, most stars in the universe are much larger than the sun, such as the red giant Betelgeuse. This star is around 20 times more massive and 700 times wider than the sun. Those stars, which are larger than the sun, are much hotter as well, which means they are tremendously driven by CNO fusion. These stars fuse hydrogen into helium through atomic nuclei, which are formed into a loop between carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.
The CNO cycle is known as the central source of energy in the universe. However, it is hard to identify inside a relatively cool sun, where it contributes to only one percent of its energy. The huge Borexino detector identifies the neutrinos released during nuclear fusion at the core of the sun. Experts have said that neutrinos hardly interact with any element; therefore, it is easy to study them for distant nuclear reactions. However, experts have said that it is hard to identify these neutrinos as well. As per the astronomers, trillions of neutrinos released from the sun go through the Borexino detector every second, but only dozens of them are found each day. This large detector looks for faint flashes of light as they disappear in its 300-ton water tank. The author of the study has said that they have spent decades calculating neutrinos from the sun’s proton-proton chain reaction, however, identifying the CNO neutrinos has been quite hard. They have made the detector more sensitive over the years to discover these neutrinos. They have been protecting the detector from outside sources of radioactivity. As per the experts, the inner layer of the detector is the most radiation-free place on the earth. The findings of the study are the only direct signs of CNO fusion ever seen in history. Experts have said that the discovery has brought them one-step close to studying the composition of the Sun’s core and the configuration of the massive star.