Essay about Fusion
For centuries, humankind has looked at the stars, and for just as many years humankind has tried to explain the existence of those very same stars. Were they holes in an enormous canvas that covered the earth? Were they fire-flies that could only be seen when the Apollo had parked his chariot for the night?
There seemed to be as many explanations for the stars as there were stars themselves. Then one day an individual named Galileo Galilei made an astounding discovery: the stars were replicas of our own sun, only so far away that they seemed as large as pin pricks to the naked eye. This in turn gave rise to many more questions. What keeps the stars burning? Have they always been glowing, or are they born like humans, and thus …show more content…
The triple-alpha process, the last known variety, is perhaps one of the simplest fusion reactions to understand. In this process, two helium nuclei fuse together to form a beryllium nucleus (four protons and four neutrons) (1).
Almost immediately after this, another helium nucleus is forced into the cluster, creating a carbon nucleus of six protons and six neutrons (2). In this reaction, all of the heat given off is short-wavelength gamma rays, one of the most penetrating forms of radiation. Each variety of fusion occurs depending on the size and age of the star. This will affect core temperature, causing the corresponding variety of stellar fusion. Now that fusion has been explained, one can learn how it occurs in the different star types. All stellar bodies start off as protostars, or