Nucleosynthesis in astronomy

Our Sun is currently burning, or fusing, hydrogen to helium.

This is the process that occurs during most of a star's lifetime. After the hydrogen in the star's core is exhausted, the star can burn helium to form progressively heavier elements, carbon and oxygen and so on, until iron and nickel are formed. Up to this point the process releases energy.

The formation of elements heavier than iron and nickel requires the input of energy. Supernova explosions result when the cores of massive stars have exhausted their fuel supplies and burned everything into iron and nickel.


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The nuclei with mass heavier than nickel are thought to be formed during these explosions. More about nucleosynthesis December 2, Suzaku spies treasure trove of intergalactic metal -- NASA November 5, Rapid supernova could be new class of exploding star -- Astronomy. Click on images above to learn more about them. The atoms in your body — apart from the hydrogen — were all made in stars … by stellar nucleosynthesis.

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Stars on the main sequence get the energy they shine by from nuclear reactions in their cores; off the main sequence, the energy comes from nuclear reactions in a shell or more than one shell around the core. There are several different nuclear reaction cycles, or processes e. This produces most of the lithium apart from the BBN 7 Li , beryllium, and boron.

And one more: in a supernova, especially a core collapse supernova, huge quantities of new nuclei are synthesized, very quickly, in the nuclear reactions triggered by the flood of neutrons. Like to learn more?