Shop Windows to the Universe

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
The world's first neutrino observation in a hydrogen bubble chamber. It was found Nov. 13, 1970, in this photograph from the Zero Gradient Synchrotron's 12-foot bubble chamber. The invisible neutrino strikes a proton where three particle tracks originate (lower right). The neutrino turns into a mu-meson, the long center track (extending up and left). The short track is the proton. The third track (extending down and left) is a pi-meson created by the collision.
Click on image for full size
Argonne National Laboratory


The neutrino is an extremely light (and possibly massless) neutral particle. The neutrino belongs to the family of leptons, the particles that interact through the so-called weak force. For this reason and because it is electrically neutral, neutrino interactions with matter are extremely rare.

Fusion reactions in the Sun produce neutrinos through a process known as beta decay. By detecting these neutrinos, scientists can learn about the solar interior. Because neutrinos do not interact with matter, they are very difficult to detect. The Sun is estimated to produce some 1038 neutrinos per second. Billions of these neutrinos pass through the Earth without a single interaction. Large and very sensitive detectors are actually able to detect neutrinos.

Click here for a brief history of the discovery of neutrinos.

Neutrinos are produced in a variety of nuclear processes: most of the neutrinos that reach Earth from space come from the Sun (solar neutrinos). Other sources of neutrinos are the Earth's atmosphere (neutrinos are produced in reactions triggered by cosmic gamma rays), exploding stars (supernovae), relic neutrinos (according to the current theory about the origin of the universe) and nuclear power plants.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Fundamental Forces

The interactions in the Universe are governed by four forces (strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational). Physicists are trying to derive a unified theory that would describe all the forces in nature...more

The Solar Neutrino Problem

Theories about fusion inside the solar core predict the number of neutrinos that should reach Earth. Experiments on Earth have been set up to detect solar neutrinos in order to test the validity of these...more

The Big Bang

All of the matter and energy in the Universe was initially confined in a very small region until an enormous explosion occurred, causing the Universe to expand. This expansion continues today. ...more

The Solar Core

The solar core is made up of an extremely hot and dense gas (in the plasma state). Despite a density of 160,000 Kg/m3, the temperature of 15 million kelvins (27 million degrees Faranheit) prevents the...more

Atomic Physics & Particle Physics

Atoms and the minute particles from which they are made strongly influence the nature of many phenomena that play out their roles on astronomical scales. The fields of atomic physics and particle physics...more

Particle Radiation

One main type of radiation, particle radiation, is the result of subatomic particles hurtling at tremendous speeds. Protons, cosmic rays, and alpha and beta particles are some of the most common types...more


The neutrino is an extremely light (and possibly massless) neutral particle. The neutrino belongs to the family of leptons, the particles that interact through the so-called weak force. For this reason...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA