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Bill Harlan

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.

The research is relevant to us all. ?All of the elements in your body have been made in stars, so you are the product of several star generations,? Notre Dame physicist Michael Wiescher recently told The Notre Dame Observer. ?All stars are powered by nuclear fusion reactions that create elements. The light you see when you look at the stars is released from these nuclear fusion reactions.? Wiescher is the principal investigator for DIANA, which is a collaboration of the Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina, Western Michigan University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The team here will work on experiment design and plans for installation at the 3950 Level, where DIANA would be protected from cosmic radiation. (The 4850 Level also remains a possible location.) The experiment would consist of two particle accelerators that could mimic fusion reactions in stars. 

The DIANA collaboration in September was awarded a one-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the first U.S.-based underground accelerator laboratory.  Several sites are under consideration, in addition to the Sanford Lab.