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Physics and Technology of Sustainable Energy$
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E. L. Wolf

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198769804.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 July 2021

Fusion in the Sun

Fusion in the Sun

A Primer in Quantum Physics

(p.68) 4 Fusion in the Sun
Physics and Technology of Sustainable Energy

E. L. Wolf

Oxford University Press

Protons in the Sun’s core are a dense plasma allowing fusion events where two protons initially join to produce a deuteron. Eventually this leads to alpha particles, the mass-four nucleus of helium, releasing kinetic energy. Schrodinger’s equation allows particles to penetrate classically forbidden Coulomb barriers with small but important probabilities. The approximation known as Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin (WKB) is used by Gamow to predict the rate of proton–proton fusion in the Sun, shown to be in agreement with measurements. A simplified formula is given for the power density due to fusion in the plasma constituting the Sun’s core. The properties of atomic nuclei are briefly summarized.

Keywords:   Schrodinger’s equation, Coulomb repulsion, hydrogen, helium, bound state, Gamow, power density, nuclear fusion, bound state

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