YSI 1995 / Reporting Groups / Solar Interior

Students: Linda Nimpson, Earl Hitchcock, and Michael Cooper


Thermonuclear Fusion and the Sun

By: Linda Nimpson, Earl Hitchcock, Michael Cooper

Thermonuclear fusion in the sun, also known as TNF, is a process that combines atomic nuclei to form a new element at high temperature. In this process mass is converted to energy. It occurs in the core of the sun because you must have high temperature, 27 million degrees Fahrenheit to be exact, for this process to occur. The reason the very hot temperature is needed, is to get the particles to come close enough together so that the strong force can act. The strong force is the bonding force of the nucleus.

Once the force occurs two ordinary hydrogen nuclei come together to form heavy hydrogen (deuterium) plus a positive electron (positron) and a neutrino. The positive immediately encounters an ordinary electron and they annihilate each other releasing two gamma rays. In the next step, one ordinary hydrogen nucleus combines with one heavy hydrogen nucleus to form light helium and a gamma ray. During the final step, two light helium nuclei combine to form one ordinary helium nucleus and two ordinary hydrogen nuclei.

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