The Factory of the Stars: the engine of the sun

During a solar eclipses on May 29th, 1919 Sir Arthur Eddington, an English astronomer, measured with his telescope for the first time the phenomenon of light deflection due to the Sun mass. It was an adventurous scientific enterprise and Eddington made his measurements in the island of Principe, west of African coast. It was the first experimental evidence of Albert Einstein theory of general relativity.

Eddington is well known since he also explained for the first time hydrogen fusion process occurring inside the sun. Nuclear fusion is in fact the process, which drives the sun. Therefore, in some way, fusion is a key process for life on planet earth!

Inspired from the results of this important scientist in the second episode of “The Factory of the Stars” Piero Martin visits “La Specola”, the beautiful historical Astronomical Observatory of the National Institute of Astrophysics – located downtown Padova - and describes how the fusion process works.

In a future reactor two isotopes of Hydrogen, Deuterium and Tritium, will fuse. The products of this fusion reaction are Helium-4 and a neutron. In this nuclear rearrangement energy is released due to the mass defect described by the Einstein E=mc2 formula. This energy, carried as kinetic energy by the Helium-4 and the neutron, can partly be converted into electric energy without CO2 production and in a safe and clean way.

Let’s start our trip to the Sun and back to Earth!


The Factory of the Stars, second episode: "The engine of the sun". Shooting and editing by Elisa Speronello; project manager: Francesco Suman


  1. A sun in the lab to rescue the planet
  2. The engine of the sun
  3. Caps, nuclei and shoeboxes
  4. Very special bottles
  5. Fusion, a safe choice
  6. Science without frontiers
  7. Padova, a tradition of science
  8. Helix, fusilli and plasma
  9. Under control
  10. A Million Volt lighter for Iter
  11. DTT: a made in Italy fusion
  12. Building the factory of the future
  13. Am I dreaming?


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