Laboratory Underground for Nuclear Astrophysics

Nuclear astrophysics studies the processes that have relevance for astrophysics that is those that led to the formation of the lightest elements during the big-bang together with the various nuclear fusion reactions, radiative capture, neutron capture which determine the evolution of stellar systems, from the formation of protostars to the dramatic explosions of supernovae as well as the nucleosynthesis of all elements of the periodic table.

These processes are characterized by extremely low probabilities (luckily,  otherwise our sun would burn out rapidly, which would make it impossible for biological systems to evolve) and their study requires a careful reduction of all background noise.


For this reason, since about twenty years, physicists from Genova participate in the international collaboration LUNA that, at the Underground Laboratories of Gran Sasso, measures the cross section of nuclear reactions relevant to astrophysics  using an accelerator of low energy ions (400 kV).

The LUNA experiment is co-financed in Italy by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN).