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No. 46: Jul-Aug 1986

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Solar Neutrino Update

Our terrestrial neutrino detectors catch only about 1/3 as many solar neutrinos as stellar theory requires. We frequently refer to this anomaly because at risk here is our basic theory of how stars work. Is our knowledge of stellar furnaces fundamentally in error or are some of the solar neutrinos somehow removed from the stream of neutrinos bound for earth?

Recent calculations by Hans Bethe have brought sighs of relief to all astrophysicists. Without going into all of the details, Bethe finds that the interactions of the electron-neutrinos emitted by solar thermonuclear reactions with atoms constituting the solar mass change a substantial fraction of them into muonneutrinos. Since our terrestrial neutrino detectors register only electron-neutrinos, we may really be seeing only a fraction of the total number of neutrinos being emitted by the sun. If Bethe's calculations turn out to be correct, he may have eliminated a Class1 anomaly. But at a price! It seems that his calculations also predict a mass of only 0.008 electron-volts for the muon-neutrino. This is much too small for neutrinos to account for the "missing mass" of the universe -- something cosmologists had devoutly hoped for.

(Maddox, John; "Hans Bethe on Solar Neutrinos," Nature, 320:677, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #46, JUL-AUG 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987