It is in the nature of astrophysics that many of the processes and objects one tries to understand are physically inaccessible. Thus, it is important that those aspects that can be studied in the laboratory be rather well understood.
One such aspect are the nuclear fusion reactions, which are at the heart of nuclear astrophysics: they influence sensitively the nucleosynthesis of the elements in the earliest stages of the universe and in all the objects formed thereafter, and control the associated energy generation, neutrino luminosity, and evolution of stars.
LUNA (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics) is a new experimental approach for the study of nuclear fusion reactions based on an underground accelerator laboratory.
Over the last 25 years the LUNA Collaboration has been directly measuring cross sections of the Hydrogen burning and Primordial nucleosynthesis reactions in the underground laboratories of Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) publishing more than 60 refereed papers [Publications] .
The present program of LUNA is descibed in the Proposal LUNA 400kV presented to the LNGS Scientific Commitee in March 2007.
The full proposal for the first five years' scientific exploitation of the upcoming LUNA MV facility is available here.