Glossary term: Neutrino

Description: Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by various physical processes. In the core of the Sun, neutrinos are a product of nuclear fusion. Nuclear reactions and high energy densities in supernova explosions also produce bursts of neutrinos. Observing neutrinos is difficult as they interact very weakly with atoms. Typically neutrinos are detected by observing huge tanks of water (or blocks of ice such as at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole). When a neutrino hits a water molecule in one of these tanks (or in the block of ice), it sets off particle reactions that lead to tiny amounts of light being produced. This light can be detected and analyzed. Neutrinos have been detected from the nuclear reactions in the core of the Sun and from supernovae. Neutrinos are also produced by nuclear reactors and by you. In the latter instance, neutrinos are emitted in the decay of the radioactive atomic nuclei carbon-14 and potassium-40 in the human body.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".