helium burning

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helium burning

The nuclear fusion of three helium nuclei to form carbon. See triple alpha process.

helium burning

[′hē·lē·əm ‚bərn·iŋ]
(nuclear physics)
The synthesis of elements in stars through the fusion of three alpha particles to form a carbon-12 nucleus, followed by further captures of alpha particles.
References in periodicals archive ?
Let us consider a star fusing hydrogen into helium when the star has too low a mass to ignite helium fusion.
Red giants are also less dense than their main-sequence counterparts, meaning that helium fusion occurs in a domain at lower pressure than hydrogen fusion and produces more heat.
The only thing he left out was a suggestion that, at some time in the distant future, our descendants will figure out a way to replenish the Sun's core with fresh hydrogen at just the right rate to prevent Old Sol from ever needing to initiate helium fusion.
In the last 500,000 years, helium fusion takes over.
Inside these slightly enriched new stars, temperatures could reach 100,000,000[degrees]C or more, and stable helium fusion could take place.
Helium fusion within the core does provide a stable source of energy, but compared to hydrogen it's only about 1/10 as efficient.
Therefore, at any given time either hydrogen or helium fusion dominates.
An aging red giant undergoes repetitive bursts of helium fusion in a narrow shell surrounding its carbon-oxygen core.
At the center of the star is a small but very dense core composed almost entirely of carbon and oxygen, the end products of helium fusion.
For about a century the star derives its energy from helium fusion.