Neutrinos Yield First Experimental Evidence of the CNO Energy-Production Mechanism of the Universe - SciTechDaily
Nov 26, 2020 1 min, 37 secs
November 25, 2020.

View into the interior of the Borexino detector.

An international team of about 100 scientists of the Borexino Collaboration, including particle physicist Andrea Pocar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, report in Nature this week detection of neutrinos from the sun, directly revealing for the first time that the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) fusion-cycle is at work in our sun.

It detects neutrinos as flashes of light produced when neutrinos collide with electrons in 300-tons of ultra-pure organic scintillator.

Pocar says neutrinos are really the only direct probe science has for the core of stars, including the sun, but they are exceedingly difficult to measure.

It detects neutrinos as flashes of light produced when neutrinos collide with electrons in 300-tons of ultra-pure organic scintillator.

Its great depth, size, and purity make Borexino a unique detector for this type of science, alone in its class for low-background radiation, Pocar says.

Until its latest detections, the Borexino collaboration had successfully measured components of the ‘proton-proton’ solar neutrino fluxes, helped refine neutrino flavor-oscillation parameters, and most impressively, even measured the first step in the cycle: the very low-energy ‘pp’ neutrinos, Pocar recalls.

However, research groups at Princeton, Virginia Tech and UMass Amherst believed CNO neutrinos might yet be revealed using the additional purification steps and methods they had developed to realize the exquisite detector stability required.

“Beyond revealing the CNO neutrinos which is the subject of this week’s Nature article, there is now even a potential to help resolve the metallicity problem as well,” Pocar says.

But because the data used in the analysis for the Nature paper was frozen, scientists have continued collecting data, as the central purity has continued to improve, making a new result focused on the metallicity a real possibility, Pocar says.

Reference: “Experimental evidence of neutrinos produced in the CNO fusion cycle in the Sun” by The Borexino Collaboration, 25 November 2020, Nature.

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