Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Thermonuclear runaway

  1. Jan 22, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone,

    Ok this gotta be a very simple question...

    "Calculate the energy released if a 1 solar mass white dwarf undergoes a thermonuclear runaway and converts 0.5 solar masses of carbon (A=12) to iron (A=56)."

    I know I'm supposed to use e=mc², but I would like to know what the reaction actually is.
    We start with 1/2 solar mass of C and get X solar mass of iron. Are we assuming X is 1/2?
    Also aren't we converting lighter atoms to heavier ones? Then how could energy be released in such a process?

    Just a little bit confused. Any help would be appreciated.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2012 #2
    anyone? =/
  4. Jan 22, 2012 #3
    Light atoms fuse and so you have fewer of them as heavier fused atoms. (I can hear you slapping your forehead).
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook