The sun, an average star, is a fusion reactor that has been burning over 4 billion years.
The existence of the solar neutrino problem raises three questions: It's easy to answer the 3rd question in the negative. The physics of nuclear fusion was intensively studied by the military, leading to the development of hydrogen fusion weapons. It has been deeply studied in laboratories world wide.
Indeed, the fusion reactions that typically occur in stars, both the PP and CNO cycles, and more, are all low energy reactions, and easily duplicated in a modest accelerator facility. Experience is already well beyond the level of quality required to show that there are no such large errors in the parameters of standard nuclear fusion physics.
So for many years the fight has been between the solar models the astrophysical solutionand neutrino physics the particle physics solution.
There are a number of "tweakable" parameters in solar models, including relative abundances of helium and heavier elements, the effect of diffusion and convective mixing, electron screening of nuclear fusion, Solar industry paper more. They are all "tweakable" because, like any measured or derived quantity, they all carry intrinsic uncertainties along for the ride.
As long as the parameters are "tweaked" within the limits set by the known uncertainties, the models are still unchanged. That process has been carried out extensively, with the result being that no allowed amount of "tweaking" can reproduce the observed neutrino results.
The astrophysical solution does not work. At this point it's worth noting that our models of the solar interior are not just wild guesses, but are based on pretty basic ideas in physics.
There are a lot of particular complications, but the basic ideas aren't all that weird. If you have a big fat thing like the sun, it has to be really hot inside just because its own weight will compress and heat the interior.
And if it gets hot enough there has to be nuclear fusion a fact dramatically demonstrated by the existence of hydrogen bombs. So the basic picture is pretty obvious. But the physical conditions mostly pressure, temperature and convective flow at any specific place in the star have to be computed with attention to much detail.
Still, wouldn't it be nice to know that we did it right?
Alas, a spacecraft probe will not penetrate the sun, even if it could survive the approach. But there is another way. That way is helioseismology. Light photons take about 1, years or more to make the journey from the center of the sun to the surface, but sound waves can make the trip in a matter of hours.
Helioseismology is the study of the jumble of sound waves that play around on the surface of the sun. Each frequency of vibration is sensitive to a different layer of the sun.
Combining the whole collection allows us to determine the physical state of the whole interior, and test by these observations whether or not our models are right. The result is that they were actually pretty good to start with, and now they are right on the money.
We now know what the solar interior looks like, certainly well enough to know that fusion has got to happen, and well enough to calculate the rate at which it should happen. Of course, we can imagine a more radical form of astrophysical solution, such as abandoning the idea of fusion in the solar core altogether.
But that causes more problems than it solves. If not fusion, then what is the sun's internal power source? And if there is no fusion in the solar core, why does it make any neutrinos at all?
If there were no fusion, there would be no neutrinos; if the solar neutrino problem had been "no neutrinos at all", then we might have gone that route.
But "not enough neutrinos" is a worse problem than 'no neutrinos", because the proposed solutions are nowhere near as obvious. So it would appear that the only candidate for a solution that remains is the particle physics solution, the physics of the neutrino.
But what does the solution look like? MSW stands for "Mikheyev-Smirnov-Wolfenstein", and the MSW effectalso known as "matter induced oscillations", is based on an idea first voiced by Wolfenstein in Solar EPC Company In India Company Overview.
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