The Current State of Solar Modeling

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Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1286-1292
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1286


Data from the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) project and other helioseismic experiments provide a test for models of stellar interiors and for the thermodynamic and radiative properties, on which the models depend, of matter under the extreme conditions found in the sun. Current models are in agreement with the helioseismic inferences, which suggests, for example, that the disagreement between the predicted and observed fluxes of neutrinos from the sun is not caused by errors in the models. However, the GONG data reveal subtle errors in the models, such as an excess in sound speed just beneath the convection zone. These discrepancies indicate effects that have so far not been correctly accounted for; for example, it is plausible that the sound-speed differences reflect weak mixing in stellar interiors, of potential importance to the overall evolution of stars and ultimately to estimates of the age of the galaxy based on stellar evolution calculations.