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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. The processes that make this energy take place in the center of the Sun. We can't see past the surface of the Sun. But scientists use indirect ways (diagnostics) to figure out just how the energy is produced.

One way scientists research the inside of the Sun is to study helioseismology. Helioseismology is just a big word that means the study of the vibrations of the Sun and the waves these vibrations make. (If you were that hot, you'd shake a little too!)

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

If scientists look at neutrinos and the waves made by the Sun vibrating, 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 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