The elements that make up everything that we see around us, including carbon and oxygen that are necessary for life, were made by nuclear reactions and decays in stars. These processes also produce the energy that makes stars shine, including the nearest star, our Sun. We depend on this energy for our very existence. The abundances of the elements and isotopes provide important information about the astrophysical environments where they were created. This field of research is called Nuclear Astrophysics.

Our group measures nuclear fusion reactions that occur inside stars using our world-class accelerator facilities. The measured reaction cross sections, combined with astronomical observations, allow us to describe the first epoch of nucleosynthesis during the big bang, the major burning stages in the life of a star, the evolution of stellar populations, and the evolution of the Galaxy as a whole.

We are always looking for good graduate and undergraduate students to work in our group. If you are a  prospective graduate student with interest in nuclear astrophysics research and you would like to join our group, you need to be admitted first to the Graduate School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please contact one of the group faculty members.



    Art Champagne           EXPERIMENT 

     Jon Engel                      THEORY

     Christian Iliadis          EXPERIMENT                

The Crab Nebula (M1) consists of matter ejected in a type II supernova explosion and resulted from the core collapse of a massive star. Many elements are created before and during the explosion via nuclear fusion reactions. Credit: NASA/ESA and J. Hester.


NEWS: recent work by our group has been featured on the Department of Energy Office of Science website as a Science Highlight (see “Probing Nuclear Reactions in Stars”; November 2015)