What would stars be like if carbon had the smallest mass per nuclear particle?

1 Answer
Sep 16, 2016

If carbon had the smallest mass per nucleon many common fusion reactions couldn't exist.


Nuclear fusion only produces energy if the binding energy per nucleon is reduced as a result of the reaction. In our universe, #"iron"# is the element which is at the limit.

If carbon had the lowest binding energy per nucleon, all elements heavier than carbon could only be produced as a result of a #"supernova explosion."#

The main effect on stars would be that they would have much shorter lifetimes as once fusion created carbon any further fusion reactions would not be possible.