In physics, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple nuclei join together to form a heavier nucleus.
It is accompanied by the release or absorption of energy depending on the masses of the nuclei involved.
Iron and nickel nuclei have the largest binding energies per nucleon of all nuclei and therefore are the most stable.
The fusion of two nuclei lighter than iron or nickel generally releases energy while the fusion of nuclei heavier than iron or nickel absorbs energy; vice-versa for the reverse process, nuclear fission.
Nuclear fusion of light elements releases the energy that causes stars to shine and hydrogen bombs to explode.
Nuclear fusion of heavy elements (absorbing energy) occurs in the extremely high-energy conditions of supernova explosions.
Nuclear fusion in stars and supernovae is the primary process by which new natural elements are created.
It is this reaction that is harnessed in fusion power.
It takes considerable energy to force nuclei to fuse, even those of the lightest element, hydrogen.
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