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artificial suns [Q&A]

Vinay

Vibha of Poornaprajna PU College asks, can we make an artificial Sun?

There are many ways this question can be interpreted.

If the question is whether we can produce energy in the same manner that the Sun does, then yes, that is what a thermonuclear fusion bomb is. There are some differences, of course. The Sun fuses protons, and H-bombs typically use Tritium. And unlike the case with nuclear fission, we don’t yet have the capability to carry out sustained and controlled fusion.

If the question is whether we can bring together enough mass to ignite fusion reaction due to gravitational pressure, then no, we are very far away from such technologies. A mass of at least 8% of the solar mass, about 1.6 1032 gm, or 84 times Jupiter’s mass, or 27000 times Earth’s mass, is needed to generate sufficient core pressure to start and maintain fusion. And even then, it would be a weak late-type low-mass red M dwarf.

2 Comments

  1. atul wrote:

    Cooooooooooooooooooooooooool…. Great answer for a very interesting question. Then how much does it take to create a star that goes supernova?

    Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  2. Vinay wrote:

    About 200-300 times more mass. It is difficult to set an exact number because it depends on a variety of factors, but generally a few tens of times the mass of the Sun is necessary to raise core pressure and temperature to eventually (after millions of years) get it to start making Fe and subsequently collapse.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink