Our best knowledge of physics predicts that the Sun is powered by the nuclear fusion of Hydrogen into Helium via the pp-chain. The story of how we tested this model by detecting, here on Earth, the neutrinos from the fusion process deep in the core of the Sun, is a fascinating one which has only reached a conclusion very recently. It is a great case study in astronomy. The first research project will be to research this story and write it up in the form of a concise, 1500 word article whose level, language and structure would be appropriate for a popular science article (e.g. for a magazine such as Scientific American). Pictures/diagrams can be included as required. All sources should be fully cited.
You will need to touch on the following points:
• How neutrinos are produced in the Sun; what neutrinos are, and how are they detected on Earth? When were the first solar neutrinos detected? What neutrino detectors are currently online, and what are the sources of neutrinos other than the Sun?
• What is the history of neutrino detectors. When did we detect the first solar neutrinos? What was the solar neutrino problem? How long did it take to resolve the the solar neutrino problem? How was it resolved? What are neutrino oscillations?
• How can one reconstruct the fusion processes in the core of the Sun? How can we tell that the solar neutrinos are coming from the pp chain specifically?
• How does the 2015 Novel Prize in Physics tie into this?
Some resources to get you started:
1) Website of John Bahcall, who was perhaps THE key figure in the solar neutrino problem. He died in 2005, but his website has a LOT of information on the history of the problem, and is a great starting point. http://www.sns.ias.edu/∼jnb/
2) A news article about the most recent advance in studying solar neutrinos: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Detecting neutrinos physicists look into the heart of the sun 999.html
3) A solar neutrino-related popular science article. http://io9.com/5859576/whats-the-strangest-thing-a…
4) The 2015 Nobel prize in physics: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel prizes/physics/laureates/2015/press.html