Big Bang nucleosynthesis (BBN) describes the production of light nuclei in the early phases of the Universe. For this, precise knowledge of the cosmological parameters, such as the baryon density, as well as the cross section of the fusion reactions involved are needed. In general, the energies of interest for BBN are so low (E <1MeV) that nuclear cross section measurements are practically unfeasible at the Earth’s surface. As of today, LUNA (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics) has been the only facility in the world available to perform direct measurements of small cross section in a very low background radiation. Owing to the background suppression provided by about 1400 meters of rock at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), Italy, and to the high current offered by the LUNA accelerator, it has been possible to investigate cross sections at energies of interest for Big Bang nucleosynthesis using protons, 3He and alpha particles as projectiles. The main reaction studied in the past at LUNA is the 2H(4He, (Formula presented.))6Li. Its cross section was measured directly, for the first time, in the BBN energy range. Other processes like 2H(p, (Formula presented.))3He , 3He(2H, p)4He and 3He(4He, (Formula presented.))7Be were also studied at LUNA, thus enabling to reduce the uncertainty on the overall reaction rate and consequently on the determination of primordial abundances. The improvements on BBN due to the LUNA experimental data will be discussed and a perspective of future measurements will be outlined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics