If you only view the Sun’s light, you’ll miss this elusive info.
The active Sun produces much more than our eyes perceive.
Its core reactions copiously create energetic neutrinos, not merely radiation.
Here are 8 surprising facts about the Sun’s most ghostly particle.
1.) Neutrinos carry ~1% of the Sun’s total energy output.
The Sun produces ~10³⁸ neutrinos every second, carrying 4 × 10²⁴ W of continuous power.
2.) They exit the Sun less than 3 seconds after being generated.
Despite moving slower than photons, neutrinos barely interact with matter, streaming out at approximately c.
3.) They’re abundant on Earth.
70 billion solar neutrinos pass through your thumbnail, undetected, every second.
4.) We only observe ⅓ of the Sun’s predicted neutrino rate.
The Sun produces electron neutrinos, which oscillate into two other flavors, demonstrating the neutrino’s massive nature.
5.) Neutrinos arrive with specific, discrete energy spectra.
Measuring neutrino energies reveal explicit, rare reactions occurring inside the Sun.
6.) Solar neutrinos have imaged the Sun.
Passing freely through Earth, neutrinos reveal the Sun continuously: day or night.
7.) They constrain the size of the Sun’s core.
Based on electron-neutrino scattering, nuclear reactions occur only in the Sun’s innermost 20–25%.
8.) They’re our first “solar apocalypse” warning.
If the Sun’s interior changed significantly, altered neutrino fluxes would alert humanity in under ~9 minutes.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.