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Big Bang nucleosynthesis

(BBN, primordial nucleosynthesis)
(creation of atomic nuclei in the very early universe)

Big Bang nucleosynthesis (or primordial nucleosynthesis) is nucleosynthesis (the creation of atomic nuclei) occurring immediately after the Big Bang, i.e., in the very early universe. In the study of cosmology, the effect of the necessary extreme temperature immediately after the Big Bang along with what's known of the laws of physics is worked out, calculating the abundances of elements that have likely been produced. Today's abundances would be the result of this plus the effects of the later nucleosynthesis within stars and supernovae, offering a constraint on all these nucleosynthesis theories.

Current theorized stable results of this very early nucleosynthesis are largely hydrogen-1 (i.e., with mass number 1) with some helium-4, along with far less deuterium, helium-3, and lithium-7. These are the abundances left over after the initial drop in temperature, termed relic abundances or primordial abundances:

Isotope (rough) mass fraction
H .75 (Xp)
He .25 (Yp)
2H or D 10-4 (Dp)
3He 10-4
3H 10-6 (radioactive)
7Be 10-10 (radioactive)
7Li 10-10

The primordial radioactive isotopes have long since disappeared, so their current abundance depends upon recent nucleosynthesis. A more precise value of the helium abundance is of current research interest: cosmological models relate it to other quantities of interest. Recent determinations still vary, one being .2446.

(physics,cosmology,nucleosynthesis,Big Bang,early universe)

Referenced by:
deuterium (D)
early universe
helium (He)
hydrogen (H)
lithium (Li)
mass fraction
stellar population