Stars - breeding grounds of the elements

Astrophysicists are studying nucleosynthesis in stellar giants

Without nuclear fusion inside the stars, most chemical elements would not. Here is a look at young stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud. NASA, ESA, CXC, University of Potsdam, NASA / JPL-Caltech, NASA / STScI
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The starlight reveals a lot about the origin of the elements, the age and the future development of the universe. But astrophysicists do not just direct their gaze into the night sky. Frankfurt physicists simulate red giants in the laboratory and thus put established theories to the test.

We would not be without the first stars. Because only by the nuclear fusion in the stellar embers the first heavier elements formed - and thus the building blocks of the planets and also of our body. The well-known US astronomer Carl Sagan therefore coined the phrase: "We are all stardust." But how exactly do the heavy elements inside the stars originate? And how have these processes influenced the current abundance of solar system and space elements?

To find out, astrophysicists at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, under the direction of René Reifarth, investigate element formation in stars in the laboratory. They simulate the processes inside red giants and conduct experiments on neutron sources. Their results not only provide insight into the cosmic "element factories", they also help to better define the age of the universe.

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Kathrin Göbel and René Reifarth / Research Frankfurt
As of: 16.12.2016