771 research outputs found

    LUNA: Nuclear Astrophysics Deep Underground

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    Nuclear astrophysics strives for a comprehensive picture of the nuclear reactions responsible for synthesizing the chemical elements and for powering the stellar evolution engine. Deep underground in the Gran Sasso laboratory the cross sections of the key reactions of the proton-proton chain and of the Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen (CNO) cycle have been measured right down to the energies of astrophysical interest. The salient features of underground nuclear astrophysics are summarized here. The main results obtained by LUNA in the last twenty years are reviewed, and their influence on the comprehension of the properties of the neutrino, of the Sun and of the Universe itself are discussed. Future directions of underground nuclear astrophysics towards the study of helium and carbon burning and of stellar neutron sources in stars are pointed out.Comment: Invited review, submitted to Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Scienc

    LUNA: Status and Prospects

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    The essential ingredients of nuclear astrophysics are the thermonuclear reactions which shape the life and death of stars and which are responsible for the synthesis of the chemical elements in the Universe. Deep underground in the Gran Sasso Laboratory the cross sections of the key reactions responsible for the hydrogen burning in stars have been measured with two accelerators of 50 and 400 kV voltage right down to the energies of astrophysical interest. As a matter of fact, the main advantage of the underground laboratory is the reduction of the background. Such a reduction has allowed, for the first time, to measure relevant cross sections at the Gamow energy. The qualifying features of underground nuclear astrophysics are exhaustively reviewed before discussing the current LUNA program which is mainly devoted to the study of the Big-Bang nucleosynthesis and of the synthesis of the light elements in AGB stars and classical novae. The main results obtained during the study of reactions relevant to the Sun are also reviewed and their influence on our understanding of the properties of the neutrino, of the Sun and of the Universe itself is discussed. Finally, the future of LUNA during the next decade is outlined. It will be mainly focused on the study of the nuclear burning stages after hydrogen burning: helium and carbon burning. All this will be accomplished thanks to a new 3.5 MV accelerator able to deliver high current beams of proton, helium and carbon which will start running under Gran Sasso in 2019. In particular, we will discuss the first phase of the scientific case of the 3.5 MV accelerator focused on the study of 12^{12}C+12^{12}C and of the two reactions which generate free neutrons inside stars: 13^{13}C(α\alpha,n)16^{16}O and 22^{22}Ne(α\alpha,n)25^{25}Mg.Comment: To be published in Progress in Particle and Nuclear Physics 98C (2018) pp. 55-8

    The new Felsenkeller 5 MV underground accelerator

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    The field of nuclear astrophysics is devoted to the study of the creation of the chemical elements. By nature, it is deeply intertwined with the physics of the Sun. The nuclear reactions of the proton-proton cycle of hydrogen burning, including the 3He({\alpha},{\gamma})7Be reaction, provide the necessary nuclear energy to prevent the gravitational collapse of the Sun and give rise to the by now well-studied pp, 7Be, and 8B solar neutrinos. The not yet measured flux of 13N, 15O, and 17F neutrinos from the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle is affected in rate by the 14N(p,{\gamma})15O reaction and in emission profile by the 12C(p,{\gamma})13N reaction. The nucleosynthetic output of the subsequent phase in stellar evolution, helium burning, is controlled by the 12C({\alpha},{\gamma})16O reaction. In order to properly interpret the existing and upcoming solar neutrino data, precise nuclear physics information is needed. For nuclear reactions between light, stable nuclei, the best available technique are experiments with small ion accelerators in underground, low-background settings. The pioneering work in this regard has been done by the LUNA collaboration at Gran Sasso/Italy, using a 0.4 MV accelerator. The present contribution reports on a higher-energy, 5.0 MV, underground accelerator in the Felsenkeller underground site in Dresden/Germany. Results from {\gamma}-ray, neutron, and muon background measurements in the Felsenkeller underground site in Dresden, Germany, show that the background conditions are satisfactory for nuclear astrophysics purposes. The accelerator is in the commissioning phase and will provide intense, up to 50{\mu}A, beams of 1H+, 4He+ , and 12C+ ions, enabling research on astrophysically relevant nuclear reactions with unprecedented sensitivity.Comment: Submitted to the Proceedings of the 5th International Solar Neutrino Conference, Dresden/Germany, 11-14 June 2018, to appear on World Scientific -- updated version (Figure 2 and relevant discussion updated, co-author A. Domula added

    Nuclear Astrophysics

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    Nuclear astrophysics is that branch of astrophysics which helps understanding some of the many facets of the Universe through the knowledge of the microcosm of the atomic nucleus. In the last decades much advance has been made in nuclear astrophysics thanks to the sometimes spectacular progress in the modelling of the structure and evolution of the stars, in the quality and diversity of the astronomical observations, as well as in the experimental and theoretical understanding of the atomic nucleus and of its spontaneous or induced transformations. Developments in other sub-fields of physics and chemistry have also contributed to that advance. Many long-standing problems remain to be solved, however, and the theoretical understanding of a large variety of observational facts needs to be put on safer grounds. In addition, new questions are continuously emerging, and new facts endanger old ideas. This review shows that astrophysics has been, and still is, highly demanding to nuclear physics in both its experimental and theoretical components. On top of the fact that large varieties of nuclei have to be dealt with, these nuclei are immersed in highly unusual environments which may have a significant impact on their static properties, the diversity of their transmutation modes, and on the probabilities of these modes. In order to have a chance of solving some of the problems nuclear astrophysics is facing, the astrophysicists and nuclear physicists are obviously bound to put their competence in common, and have sometimes to benefit from the help of other fields of physics, like particle physics, plasma physics or solid-state physics.Comment: LaTeX2e with iopart.cls, 84 pages, 19 figures (graphicx package), 374 updated references. Published in Reports on Progress in Physics, vol.62, pp. 395-464 (1999

    Introduction to nuclear astrophysics

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    In the first lecture of this volume, we will present the basic fundamental ideas regarding nuclear processes occurring in stars. We start from stellar observations, will then elaborate on some important quantum-mechanical phenomena governing nuclear reactions, continue with how nuclear reactions proceed in a hot stellar plasma and, finally, we will provide an overview of stellar burning stages. At the end, the current knowledge regarding the origin of the elements is briefly summarized. This lecture is directed towards the student of nuclear astrophysics. Our intention is to present seemingly unrelated phenomena of nuclear physics and astrophysics in a coherent framework.Comment: Proceedings of the 5th European Summer School on Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics, Santa Tecla, Italy, 2009, 20 pages, 4 figures, 1 tabl

    LUNA: a Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics

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    It is in the nature of astrophysics that many of the processes and objects one tries to understand are physically inaccessible. Thus, it is important that those aspects that can be studied in the laboratory be rather well understood. One such aspect are the nuclear fusion reactions, which are at the heart of nuclear astrophysics. They influence sensitively the nucleosynthesis of the elements in the earliest stages of the universe and in all the objects formed thereafter, and control the associated energy generation, neutrino luminosity, and evolution of stars. We review an experimental approach for the study of nuclear fusion reactions based on an underground accelerator laboratory, named LUNA.Comment: Invited Review; accepted for publication in Reports on Progress in Physics; 26 pages; 27 figure

    The Status and Future of Direct Nuclear Reaction Measurements for Stellar Burning

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    The study of stellar burning began just over 100 years ago. Nonetheless, we do not yet have a detailed picture of the nucleosynthesis within stars and how nucleosynthesis impacts stellar structure and the remnants of stellar evolution. Achieving this understanding will require precise direct measurements of the nuclear reactions involved. This report summarizes the status of direct measurements for stellar burning, focusing on developments of the last couple of decades, and offering a prospectus of near-future developments.Comment: Accepted to Journal of Physics G as a Major Report. Corresponding author: Zach Meisel ([email protected]