Nuclear Fusion In Stars Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Nuclear Fusion In Stars?
Nuclear fusion is a process where two or more atomic nuclei collide at extremely high speeds and fuse together to form a larger, heavier nucleus. This process releases an enormous amount of energy, which is what powers stars in the universe. Nuclear fusion occurs in stars when hydrogen atoms are squeezed together with enough force to overcome the repulsive forces of their positive charges and join together to form helium atoms. This reaction releases an immense amount of energy that eventually radiates out into space as visible light, infrared radiation and other forms of electromagnetic radiation. The process of nuclear fusion has been studied since the early 20th century and has been used to build weapons such as hydrogen bombs. Today, it is being looked at for potential applications in power generation on Earth because it has the potential to produce much more energy than traditional fossil fuel sources. In a star, nuclear fusion takes place over many billions of years under temperatures up to 15 million Kelvin (27 million degrees Fahrenheit) and pressures about 250 billion times that on Earth’s surface; conditions found only in deep space. At these extreme temperatures, hydrogen atoms can be compressed until their nuclei fuse together forming helium atoms and releasing vast amounts of energy in the form of light, heat and gamma rays. The most common reaction used by stars for nuclear fusion is known as the proton-proton chain reaction involving four protons fusing together over time into one helium nucleus plus two positrons (anti-particles) plus two neutrinos (tiny particles with no charge). This chain reaction produces enormous amounts of energy within each star’s core which then radiates outward through its atmosphere providing us with the light we see from distant stars. The Sun’s core temperature reaches up to 15 million degrees Celsius during this process allowing it to convert 600 million tons of mass into pure energy every second. Nuclear Fusion plays an incredibly important role in our universe by providing us with virtually limitless power from distant stars like our Sun which will continue burning for billions more years thanks to this incredible nuclear process. It also holds great promise for powering our planet here on Earth but due its complexity further research needs to be done before we can make use this amazing source of sustainable energy – something scientists around world are actively working towards today.