A lab sited under 1.4 kilometres (4,500 feet) of rock has detected particles from the Sun that help to measure activity at the very heart of our star, scientists said Wednesday.

Deep beneath Italy’s Apennine Mountains, the laboratory recorded low-energy neutrinos spewed out by the fusion of hydrogen protons, the mechanism by which the Sun’s core generates energy, they said.

Called pp neutrinos, the particles are a tool for measuring the Sun’s vital signs, the scientists reported in the journal Nature.

“By comparing the two different types of solar energy radiated — as neutrinos and as surface light — we obtain experimental information over about a 100,000-year timescale,” said Andrea Pocar at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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