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Quantum tunneling and nuclear fusion : insights on the synthesis of the elements in stars

Wednesday 28 January 2015, 2.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Sandrine Courtin, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York

Fusion is the dominant mechanism in the collisions of heavy-ions at nuclear physics energies. At low energy, fusion occurs via tunneling through the Coulomb barrier.  The strong sensitivity of the sub-barrier fusion probability to the structure of the colliding nuclei will be presented as well as a very recent experimental study showing that, at extreme sub-barrier energies, a surprising dependence of the process on fundamental properties of nuclear matter is found, such as its incompressibility. In this energy region, nuclear fusion is strongly connected to astrophysics, as it is an essential step in the synthesis of the chemical elements in stars. Indeed, fusion in astrophysical environments often occurs at temperatures which correspond to energies lower than what can be studied in the laboratory except for a few reactions. Among these, we will discuss recent results on the 12C+12C system at extreme sub-barrier energies, addressing the essential nuclear astrophysics question of the burning of carbon in the late stages of massive stars.

Location: P/X/001 Physics/Electronics Lecture Theatre

Admission: Free