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Nuclei in the Cosmos

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This white paper, directed to the Stars and Stellar Evolution panel, has three objectives: 1) to provide the Astro2010 Decadal Survey with a vista into the goals of the nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics community; 2) to alert the astronomical community of joint opportunities for discoveries at the interface between nuclear physics and astronomy; and 3) to delineate efforts in nuclear physics and describe the observational and theoretical advances in astrophysics necessary to make progress towards answering the following questions in the Nuclear Science 2007 Long Range Plan: 1) What is the origin and distribution of the elements? 2) What are the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions? 3) What is the nature of dense matter? The scope of this white paper concerns the specific area of "low energy" nuclear astrophysics. We define this as the area of overlap between astrophysics and the study of nuclear structure and reactions. Of the questions listed above, two -- What is the origin of the elements? and What is the nature of dense matter? -- were specifically listed in the National Academies Study, "Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos".


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