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What is nuclear fusion and where does it occur naturally?

Nuclear fusion is the process of combining two atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus.

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun and other stars. It occurs when two atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy in the process. This energy is generated by the conversion of mass into energy, as described by Einstein's famous equation E=mc².

The most common fusion reaction in stars involves the fusion of hydrogen nuclei (protons) to form helium. This process occurs in the core of the sun, where the temperature and pressure are high enough to overcome the electrostatic repulsion between the positively charged nuclei. The fusion of hydrogen nuclei releases a large amount of energy in the form of light and heat, which is what makes the sun shine.

Nuclear fusion has the potential to provide a virtually limitless source of clean energy here on Earth. However, achieving controlled fusion reactions on Earth is a significant scientific and engineering challenge. Current fusion experiments involve heating hydrogen isotopes to extremely high temperatures and confining them using strong magnetic fields. If successful, fusion could provide a safe, sustainable, and carbon-free source of energy for generations to come.

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