Source of Helium Neutrons in Sun?

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Westwind
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Source of Helium Neutrons in Sun?

Post by Westwind » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:41 am

When hydrogen atoms are converted to helium atoms in the sun in the proton-proton process, where do the neutrons come from that are part of the helium atoms? The hydrogen atoms had no neutrons before the fusion process takes place.

--Bill

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Chris Peterson
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Re: Source of Helium Neutrons in Sun?

Post by Chris Peterson » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:22 am

Westwind wrote:When hydrogen atoms are converted to helium atoms in the sun in the proton-proton process, where do the neutrons come from that are part of the helium atoms? The hydrogen atoms had no neutrons before the fusion process takes place.
The first step of the process involves two 1H (protons) fusing such that one of the protons is converted to a neutron (via beta decay, where a positron is released), resulting in a 2H (deuterium) atom. Then one deuterium and one proton fuse to form 3He, which can go several ways to form 4He.
Chris

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Chris L Peterson
Cloudbait Observatory
http://www.cloudbait.com

Westwind
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Re: Source of Helium Neutrons in Sun?

Post by Westwind » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:10 pm

Thanks, Chris! I'm a recreational amateur astronomer with very little formal education in science. When I found a diagram of the proton-proton process, I didn't understand where all the neutrons were coming from.

By the way, I suggested your Cloudbait site to a friend in the Memphis Astronomical Society. He said you have a "cool" setup. I thought he might be interested because he plans on setting up his own home observatory when he retires in a year or two.

Thanks again.

--Bill Murmann
Cuyahoga Astronomical Association