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Thermonuclear fusion in accretion disks?

  1. Feb 5, 2014 #1
    I was wondering whether thermonuclear fusion could be achieved in accretion disks around black holes, or even neutron stars/white dwarfs. Seems like, in AGN at the very least, you would easily get the kind of temperatures and pressures necessary for thermonuclear fusion, perhaps even synthesis of heavier elements (above Iron). I have never heard of this, but I would be a little surprised if it weren't true. Does anyone know if this is supposed to happen, or do we have any sort of direct spectroscopic evidence supporting it? I would be interested to know. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2014 #2


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    It appears that fusion can occur in accretion disks. See this paper as an example.
  4. Feb 6, 2014 #3
    Perfect. Thank you!
  5. Feb 7, 2014 #4
    I know that nuclear fusion occurs on the surface of neutron stars. Sometimes it is a big starwide explosion, sometimes it is gradual.
  6. Feb 7, 2014 #5
    Are you sure? I thought Nuetron stars formed when a star not big enough to become a black hole exhausted its fuel, and that Nuetron stars have a surface of iron.
  7. Feb 8, 2014 #6

    For the first time, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have detected all phases of thermonuclear burning in a neutron star. The star, located close to the center of the galaxy in the globular cluster Terzan 5, is a “model burster,” says Manuel Linares, a postdoc at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

    Linares and his colleagues from MIT, McGill University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Amsterdam analyzed X-ray observations from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, and discovered the star is the first of its kind to burst the way that models predict. What’s more, the discovery may help explain why such a model star has not been detected until now. A paper to be published in the March 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal details the group’s findings.

    more at link.
  8. Feb 8, 2014 #7
    The gravity of the star attracts hydrogen and helium. The gravity is so intense that the helium fuses too. The star has an atmosphere of carbon that is very small, an inch thick or something like that.
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