Neutron Reactions in Astrophysics

R. Reifarth, C. Lederer, F. Käppeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The quest for the origin of matter in the Universe had been the subject of philosophical and theological debates over the history of mankind, but quantitative answers could be found only by the scientific achievements of the last century. A first important step on this way was the development of spectral analysis by Kirchhoff and Bunsen in the middle of the 19$^{\rm th}$ century, which provided first insight in the chemical composition of the sun and the stars. The energy source of the stars and the related processes of nucleosynthesis, however, could be revealed only with the discoveries of nuclear physics. A final breakthrough came eventually with the compilation of elemental and isotopic abundances in the solar system, which are reflecting the various nucleosynthetic processes in detail. This review is focusing on the mass region above iron, where the formation of the elements is dominated by neutron capture, mainly in the slow ($s$) and rapid ($r$) processes. Following a brief historic account and a sketch of the relevant astrophysical models, emphasis is put on the nuclear physics input, where status and perspectives of experimental approaches are presented in some detail, complemented by the indispensable role of theory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2014


  • astro-ph.IM
  • nucl-ex


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