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A velocity map of the sun surface acoustic waves: red regions represent inward motions while blue regions show outward motions
Mount Wilson Observatory

Diagnostics for the Solar Interior

The Sun releases energy. This energy is made in the center of the Sun. But we can't see past the surface of the Sun. So how do we know how this energy is made? Well, scientists use diagnostics to figure out what is on the inside of the Sun.

When you go to the doctor, the doctor can't see through your skin to see if your heart is fine. So the doctor may use an instrument to listen to your heart. Even though the doctor can't see your heart working, he or she uses listening as a diagnostic to make su re your heart is working well.

One diagnostic scientists use to figure out what is inside the Sun is called helioseismology. (Impress your teachers by using that big word!)

Another important diagnostic is neutrino detection. Neutrinos are made in the nuclear reactions that take place in the center of the Sun.

If scientists look at neutrinos and study helioseismology, they can piece together how the Sun makes its energy. They can also start to figure out what will happen to the Sun during its life cycle.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF