Nuclear astrophysics strives for a comprehensive picture of the nuclear reactions responsible for synthesizing chemical elements and for powering the stellar evolution engine. Deep underground in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, the cross sections of the key reactions of the proton-proton chain and of the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle have been measured right down to the energies of astrophysical interest. The salient features of underground nuclear astrophysics are summarized here. We review the main results obtained by LUNA during the past 20 years and discuss their influence on our understanding of the properties of the neutrino, the Sun, and the universe itself. Future directions of underground nuclear astrophysics toward the study both of helium and carbon burning and of stellar neutron sources in stars are outlined.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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