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New Insights into the Formation of Heavy Elements

Nature Study: Researchers simulate the scattering of helium nuclei inside stars for the first time

Jülich/Bonn/Bochum, 2 December 2015 – Alpha particles, which is what helium atoms are also called, play a decisive role in the formation of heavy elements. Carbon, for example, results from the fusion of three alpha particles. If another helium nucleus is involved, oxygen is formed – another prerequisite for life on Earth. An international team of researchers presents a new method in the current issue of Nature that uses supercomputers to produce detailed simulations of this birth process inside stars. The method reduces the cost of computation and made it possible for the first time to calculate the scattering process of two alpha particles ab initio with Jülich’s supercomputer JUQUEEN.

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