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All elements in the Universe, except for the lightest ones, are made in stars.
But the heavier elements, like gold, lead and uranium, are not. How are they made?
Nuclear physics has as its objective the investigation and understanding of nuclei, which are the hearts of atoms and the place where almost all mass of visible matter resides. The rules of nuclear binding determine the number of stable isotopes and their relative abundance in the world we live. Nuclei are fermion systems comprising from a few to hundred of neutrons and protons. The systems are small enough to exhibit sharp quantum states, but also large enough to show collective degrees of freedom, like vibrations and rotations.