Carbon creation finding set to rock astrophysics

New research sheds light on the origins of the building blocks of life in the universe.

A new measurement of how quickly stars create carbon may trigger a major shift in our understanding of how stars evolve and die, how the elements are created, and even the origin and abundance of the building blocks of life.

Physicists at the Australian National University and the University of Oslo reproduced how stars make carbon through a fleeting partnership of helium atoms known as the Hoyle state in two separate measurements. They found that carbon – the building block of life – is produced 34 percent faster than previously thought.

‘It’s a really surprising result, with profound implications across astrophysics,’ said Associate Professor Tibor Kibedi, one of the lead researchers from the Department of Nuclear Physics at ANU.