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Nuclear Physics in a Nutshell by Carlos A. Bertulani

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12 Nuclear Astrophysics

12.1 Introduction

The hydrogen, deuterium, and most of the helium atoms in the universe are believed to have been created some 20 billion years ago in a primary formation process referred to as the Big Bang, while all other elements have been formed—and are still being formed—in nuclear reactions in the stars. These reaction processes can only be understood in an astrophysical context, as briefly outlined in this chapter, which also describes how nuclear science has provided much understanding about the universe, our solar system and our planets.

The evolution of the universe is the object of study of cosmology and astrophysics; nuclear astrophysics studies the synthesis of heavy nuclei starting from lighter ones in temperature ...

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