Underground Nuclear Astrophysics: pushing direct measurements toward the Gamow window
Universitk di Genova and INFN Genova, Italy
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Published online: 14 January 2020
The aim of experimental nuclear astrophysics is to provide information on the nuclear processes involved in astrophysical scenarios at the relevant energy range. However, the measurement of the cross section of nuclear reactions at low energies present formidable difficulties due to the very low reaction rates often overwhelmed by the background. Several approaches have been proposed and exploited to overcome such severe obstacles: in such frame, the idea to install a low energy - high intensity ion accelerator deep underground, to gain high luminosity while reducing the cosmic ray background, brought more than 25 years ago, to the pilot LUNA experiment. LUNA stands for Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics: in the cave under the Gran Sasso mountain (in Italy) first a 50 kV and then a 400 kV single-ended accelerator for protons and alphas were deployed and produced plenty of data mainly on reactions of the H-burning phase in stars. Recently, similar facilities have been installed and/or proposed in other underground laboratories in US and China. LUNA as well is going to make a big step forward, with a new machine in the MV range which will be able to provide intense beams of protons, alphas and carbon ions. The rationale of underground nuclear astrophysics will be presented together with the last updates on the ongoing research programs.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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