Related topics: plasma

Radiant protostars and shadowy clouds clash in stellar nursery

The massive, star-forming interstellar cloud Lupus 3 is captured with the 570-megapixel US Department of Energy-fabricated Dark Energy Camera at NSF's NOIRLab's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The dazzling ...

Demystifying vortex rings in nuclear fusion and supernovae

Better understanding the formation of swirling, ring-shaped disturbances—known as vortex rings—could help nuclear fusion researchers compress fuel more efficiently, bringing it closer to becoming a viable energy source.

What if Titan Dragonfly had a fusion engine?

In a little over four years, NASA's Dragonfly mission will launch into space and begin its long journey towards Titan, Saturn's largest moon. As part of the New Frontiers program, this quadcopter will explore Titan's atmosphere, ...

One in ten stars ate a Jupiter-sized planet, suggests paper

In space, cataclysmic events happen to stars all the time. Some explode as supernovae, some get torn apart by black holes, and some suffer other fates. But when it comes to planets, stars turn the tables. Then it's the stars ...

Cooking up plasmas with microwaves

Lead author Yurii Victorovich Kovtun, despite being forced to evacuate the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology amid the current Russia-Ukraine war, has continued to work with Kyoto University to create stable plasmas ...

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Nuclear fusion

In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple like-charged atomic nuclei join together to form a heavier nucleus. It is accompanied by the release or absorption of energy, which allows matter to enter a plasma state.

The fusion of two nuclei with lower mass than iron (which, along with nickel, has the largest binding energy per nucleon) generally releases energy while the fusion of nuclei heavier than iron absorbs energy; vice-versa for the reverse process, nuclear fission. In the simplest case of hydrogen fusion, two protons have to be brought close enough for their mutual electric repulsion to be overcome by the nuclear force and the subsequent release of energy.

Nuclear fusion occurs naturally in stars. Artificial fusion in human enterprises has also been achieved, although has not yet been completely controlled. Building upon the nuclear transmutation experiments of Ernest Rutherford done a few years earlier, fusion of light nuclei (hydrogen isotopes) was first observed by Mark Oliphant in 1932; the steps of the main cycle of nuclear fusion in stars were subsequently worked out by Hans Bethe throughout the remainder of that decade. Research into fusion for military purposes began in the early 1940s as part of the Manhattan Project, but was not successful until 1952. Research into controlled fusion for civilian purposes began in the 1950s, and continues to this day.

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