CASPAR

Mimicking the reactions in stars

CASPAR's accelerator is expected to be operational by early 2017

Researchers from Notre Dame, South Dakota School of Mines and Colorado School of Mines are going deep underground to study the processes in stars that produce half of all the elements in the universe. Although researchers understand the recipe of how stars work, they can’t reproduce that recipe exactly in a computer model.

CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research) is a low-energy particle accelerator that will allow researchers to mimic nuclear fusion reactions in stars. It is called a compact system because it is a very small accelerator.

Used above ground at Notre Dame for 10 years, the accelerator was renovated for use at Sanford Lab. The experiment is expected to be operational by the end of 2015. 

 

  • CASPAR takes critical step

    February 1, 2016

    Researchers with CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research) began installing the accelerator last fall.  “This is the most sensitive piece of equipment in the entire CASPAR setup,” said Dr. Frank Strieder, associate professor of physics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

  • How do accelerators work?

    November 1, 2015

    Researchers working on the Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) will begin studying the processes in stars that create the heavier elements in the universe,. Using a low-energy accelerator on the 4850 Level, they’ll fire a beam of particles at various targets, including a particular type of neon gas (22Ne) as a way to better understand how all of that works. 

  • CASPAR moves in

    August 1, 2015

    The mood was almost festive in the CASPAR cavern. After a nearly one-year delay, collaborators began putting together the backbone of the accelerator in which researchers will attempt to mimic nuclear fusion in stars. By January 2016, the collaboration hopes to begin calibrations and other tests on the accelerator.

  • Studying stars from underground

    March 1, 2015

    All chemical elements, except hydrogen and helium, were created over the course of billions of years by nuclear reactions in the hot interiors of remote and long-vanished stars. Although scientists understand the recipe of how stars work, they don’t know the full range of astronomical phenomena that occur. The Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) aims to change that. 

  • DIANA study begins with subgrant

    November 4, 2012

    Preliminary studies are under way at the Sanford Lab for a nuclear astrophysics experiment that would explore how heavy elements are formed in stars. The South Dakota Science and Technology Authority recently signed a $125,000 “subgrant” agreement with the University of Notre Dame to provide engineering and project management staff to investigate the suitability of the Sanford Lab for an experiment called Dual Ion Accelerators for Nuclear Astrophysics, or  DIANA.

  • DIANA hunts for neutrons

    June 1, 2012

    Last week researchers from the DIANA project set up portable Helium 3 counters on the 4100 Level of the Sanford Lab to measure neutron backgrounds.

    DIANA— Dual Ion Accelerators for Nuclear Astrophysics—is a collaboration of Notre Dame University, the University of North Carolina, Western Michigan University, Colorado School of Mines, Michigan State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.