Printer Friendly

Efficient WIMPs would rescue the sun.

Efficient WIMPs would rescue the sun

The sun emits only about a third of the neutrinos it ought to emit, according to theorists' "standard model' of the thermonuclear processes that go on in its center. However, adjustments to account for the neutrino observations tend not to predict properly the acoustic vibrations of the sun. Now, calculations by two groups show that putting WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) in the center of the sun would satisfy both criteria. It is the only theory that does so, John Faulkner of the Lick Observatory in Santa Cruz, Calif., told SCIENCE NEWS.

WIMPS (SN: 7/13/85, p. 23) would move energy out of the center of the sun, lowering the temperature, affecting both the thermonuclear processes and the acoustical properties, particularly the speed of sound. WIMPs and the speed of sound came to Faulkner's mind as he heard a description of the theory of the sun's p-wave vibrations by Douglas O. Gough of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, England. To calculate theoretically the sequence of these waves and the differences in frequency from one wave to the next is extremely complicated, but Gough presented a simplification for cases where the differences fall a certain way. Cancellations in the mathematics then result in a very simple equation--"a simple integral,' as Faulkner describes it --on which the differences in these waves depend.

One of the things on which this integral depends is the sun's central temperature, so Gough's simplification yields a way of testing the effects of WIMPs on the acoustic pulsations. Faulkner, Gough and an Indian student, M.N. Vahia, did the calculation in a few days, using hand calculators, and found that the WIMP model predicted the observed differences between the vibration frequencies to within two significant figures.

Meanwhile another group had been at work. Ronald L. Gilliland of the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) in Boulder, Colo., W. Dappen of HAO and J. Christensen-Dalsgaard of Aarhus University in Denmark had been calculating descriptions of the p-waves according to the full theory using a high-speed computer --about the only practical way to do it from this full-dress approach. They had reached the same conclusion about the fitness of the WIMP theory. The two groups decided their approaches were complementary and agreed on simultaneous publication in the May 15 NATURE.

The results do not prove the existence of WIMPs, says Faulkner, but if WIMPs don't exist, something else in the sun has to be efficiently transferring energy out of the center.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:weakly interacting massive particles
Author:Thomsen, Dietrick E.
Publication:Science News
Date:May 24, 1986
Previous Article:Continuing the hunt for funds.
Next Article:Lake at record high.

Related Articles
Weak sun blamed on WIMPS.
Something new under (the surface of) the sun.
Rattling WIMPs.
Making sunshine; new observations focus attention on the sun's missing neutrinos.
Sunspots and neutrinos.
Fortnight of flares dazzles astronomers.
Counting neutrinos from an 'artificial sun.'
Craft eyes solar storms, hints at cooler core.
Votes cast for and against the WIMP factor.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters