Alpha particles, which is what helium nuclei are also called, play a decisive role in the formation of heavy elements. Carbon, for example, results from the fusion of three alpha particles. If another helium nucleus is involved, oxygen is formed – another prerequisite for life on Earth.
An international team of researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, the universities of Bonn and Bochum as well as from two US-American universities presents a new method in the current issue of Nature that uses supercomputers to produce detailed simulations of this birth process inside stars. The method reduces the cost of computation and made it possible for the first time to calculate the scattering process of two alpha particles ab initio with Jülich’s supercomputer JUQUEEN. The team around Prof. Ulf-G. Meißner, a long-time user of JUQUEEN, has lately been granted computing time via a GCS large-scale project to continue these ground-breaking studies.
Original Nature publication:
Ab initio alpha-alpha scattering
Serdar Elhatisari, Dean Lee, Gautam Rupak, Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo A. Lähde, Thomas Luu, Ulf-G. Meißner
Nature 528 (2015), 111–114, DOI: 10.1038/nature16067
Press release at Forschungszentrum Jülich (in German)