Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

Synonym: primordial nucleosynthesis. The formation of complicated nuclei from constituents such as protons and neutrons in the early universe. According to the big bang models, the early universe was filled with a particle soup of protons and neutrons. At cosmic times between a few seconds and a few minutes, nuclear reactions produced the first light elements, mainly nuclei of deuterium, different varieties of helium and lithium. Heavier nuclei up to those of iron formed and continue to form in the course of fusion processes inside stars; nuclei that are even more massive form in the course of supernova explosions. These explosions also serve to disseminate the complex nuclei formed inside stars (stellar nucleosynthesis) in space.

A brief account of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis can be found in the spotlight text Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, while Equilibrium and change provides more information about the physical processes involved and Elements of the past describes how the predictions of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis can be tested against astronomical observation.