Q&A: General Astronomy and Space Science
Could you explain what nucleosynthesis is?
We have a brief description of nucleosynthesis in our
but after you read the definition, "the building up of heavy elements
from lighter ones by nuclear fusion," you might want an example of
this phenomenon. Our Sun is a good example of a nucleosynthesis machine. It
takes 2 hydrogen nuclei, which are just single protons which sometimes
come with a neutron or two, and fuses them together in the hot oven
that is the Sun's deepest interior, into helium nuclei.
The nice part of the process of stellar nucleosynthesis is that the
final nuclei is lighter than the sum of the hydrogen nuclei, so that
the process gives off energy. That's why the Sun shines and why we're
There is a definition of nuclear fusion directly above the entry for
nucleosynthesis. Nuclear fusion is exactly what it sounds like, the
fusing together of nuclei to form bigger nuclei.