Also called the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle, a cycle of
six consecutive nuclear reactions resulting in the formation of a helium
nucleus from four protons. The carbon
nuclei with which the cycle starts are effectively reformed at the end and
therefore act as a catalyst. This is believed to be the predominant energy-producing
mechanism in stars with a core temperature exceeding about 18 million °C.
In lower-mass stars with a lower core temperature, the proton-proton