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DOE provides the majority (approximately 90%) of federal support for high-energy and nuclear physics research, which uses advanced accelerator facilities as well as detectors placed underground and in space to understand the fundamental nature of matter, energy, space, time and the properties and interactions of atomic nuclei and nuclear matter.

High energy and nuclear physics research have been central to the development of technologies that include nuclear energy, nuclear medicine, nuclear weapons stockpile, synchrotron light sources and pulsed neutron sources for biological and materials research, ion implanters for the semiconductor industry, and detectors for smuggled nuclear materials.

In astrophysics, experimental and theoretical studies of accelerator-based particle physics experiments shed light on the birth and evolution of the universe immediately after the Big Bang ( Observations of supernovae discovered a mysterious dark energy that makes up 65% of the universe and causes its expansion to accelerate rather than decelerate. ( Underground neutrino detector facilities have answered long-standing questions about the solar neutrino flux and have given strong indications of neutrino mass. Searches are underway to identify the dark matter that makes up 30% of the universe. These investigations are complemented by advances in understanding the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe, giving new insight into the nature of matter at the smallest scale. Experimental nuclear astrophysics uses terrestrial accelerators to explore the physical processes important in the life and death of stars. Large-scale computational studies of core-collapse supernovae aim to elucidate the physical mechanism and the wealth of observable consequences of these massive stellar explosions.

One of DOE's long-term goals is to advance plasma science and harness fusion as a viable energy source; to this end, the agency supports research on the physics of plasmas and is exploring innovative paths to fusion energy.

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