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The "iron core" in a supernova is actually the end product of a nuclear statistical equilibrium that begins when the silicon core begins to fuse with alpha particles (helium nuclei). Exothermic reactions are possible right up to Nickel-62 (which is actually the nucleus with the highest binding energy per nucleon). In fact, successive, rapid alpha captures ...


Yes, but it's slow. (I'm not an expert, so feel free to correct if I miss something important), but once the star is into the later stages, past the Helium stage, up to Iron, fusion mostly takes place by fusing a helium onto a heavier element, raising each atomic number by 2. That's not the only method but it's the most common. Iron can also fuse into ...

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