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Even if there isn't enough heat and energy in the star to cause nucleosynthesis, could atoms quantum entangle to create a new atomic nuclei? Or would it be quantum tunneling - if this is possible?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think what you're talking about is tunneling and not entanglement, and yes I think it's possible, in fact, it might even be fairly common. I see no reason why, even with insufficient pressure, the occasional 2 hydrogen wouldn't tunnel their way into a deuterium, but as the pressure drops, the likelihood of those events would become extremely rare. I'm half guessing though. $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ But could the newly formed isotope be 2 things at the same time, if quantum tunneling happened? Or does this only happen with things even smaller than atomic nuclei? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I would concur with @userLTK and state that although it is probably possible, it is unlikely. But, since the number densities we are talking about are quite large than maybe this improbability is sometimes surmounted. However, I doubt it could either recreate the vastness and energy output of nucleosynthesis that we see even in our own Sun. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know what you mean by be "two things at the same time", I think that's an inaccurate definition, but maybe you should clarify what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 0:47

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You are referring to pyconuclear reactions - these are reactions that are initiated even when the temperature is effectively zero. They are caused by zeropoint oscillations of particles that are trapped in a deep potential well and hence are purely a quantum mechanical effect.

This is far from just of theoretical interest. It may be that pyconuclear reactions occur in the condensed matter of white dwarfs; possibly even initiating the carbon burning that can destroy the star in a type Ia supernova.

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I think you're referring to quantum tunneling. Well, quantum tunneling is actually essential in nucleosynthesis in stars. Usually quantum tunneling is a very rare occurence — but in a body as large as the Sun (whose diameter is 4 light seconds long), it is bound to happen quite frequently. This is what mainly allows atomic nuclei to collide.

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