Fr.: processus α
A class of → nuclear fusion reactions by which stars convert → helium into → heavy elements. Once carbon has been created, through → triple alpha process, in a star's interior, it can then continue to fuse with further → alpha particles to produce progressively heavier elements called → alpha particles. The first stage produces oxygen, followed by neon, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, argon, calcium, titanium, chromium and iron. This is known as the → alpha ladder, with energy released as a photon at each stage.
triple alpha process
farâravand-e âlfâ-ye setâyi
Fr.: réaction triple alpha
A chain of nuclear fusion reactions by which three helium nuclei (→ alpha particles) are transformed into → carbon. First two nuclei of helium collide, fuse, and form a nucleus of → beryllium: 4He + 4He ↔ 8Be, which is unstable and will decay back into two helium nuclei within a few 10-17 seconds. However, due to sufficiently high density and temperature in the stellar core, during a third collision between beryllium and helium, carbon is formed: 8Be + 4He → 12C + γ. The triple-alpha process is possible owing to the existence of the → Hoyle state. It is the main source of energy production in → red giants and → red supergiants in which the core temperature has reached at least 100 million K. Also called → Salpeter process.