Particles > Nuclear processes > Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process through which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to create heavier nuclei, which correspond on different elements. The difference in mass between the products and reactants is manifested as the release of large amounts of energy. Fusion of elements occur naturally in nature in the core of stars. It is the opposite of fission.
Connection to Big Idea about energy: Fusion processes can produce huge quantities of energy. Nuclear fusion is the main process through which energy is produced in stars.
Connection to Big Idea about forces: Nuclear fusion is primarily caused due to the simultaneous presence of the attractive strong nuclear force between protons and neutrons and the repelling electromagnetic force between protons. The weak nuclear force also plays a significant role as radioactive decay is essential for intermediate steps during fusion.
Connection to Big Idea about the universe: At the early stages of the universe only hydrogen and helium existed. All other elements where produced (and are still being produced) through fusion in the cores of stars and during supernova explosions.
Connection to Big Idea about Earth: Energy coming from the Sun, which is essential for Earth, is the product of stellar nuclear fusion processes.
Subjects related: Chemistry, Physics
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