Helium burning and neutron sources in the stars

Marialuisa Aliotta, Matthias Junker, Paolo Prati, Oscar Straniero, Frank Strieder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Helium burning represents an important stage of stellar evolution as it contributes to the synthesis of key elements such as carbon, through the triple-α
process, and oxygen, through the 12C(α,γ)16O reaction. It is the ratio of carbon to oxygen at the end of the helium burning stage that governs the following phases of stellar evolution leading to different scenarios depending on the initial stellar mass. In addition, helium burning in Asymptotic Giant Branch stars, provides the two main sources of neutrons, namely the 13C(α,n)16O and the 22Ne(α,n)25Mg, for the synthesis of about half of all elements heavier than iron through the s-process. Given the importance of these reactions, much experimental work has been devoted to the study of their reaction rates over the last few decades. However, large uncertainties still remain at the energies of astrophysical interest which greatly limit the accuracy of stellar models predictions. Here, we review the current status on the latest experimental efforts and show how measurements of these important reaction cross sections can be significantly improved at next-generation deep underground laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Physical Journal A: Hadrons and Nuclei
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2016


  • helium burning in stars
  • neutron capture reactions


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