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Carbon burning is a critical phase for nucleosynthesis in massive stars. The conditions for igniting this burning stage, and the subsequent isotope composition of the resulting ashes, depend strongly on the reaction rate for C12+C12 fusion at very low energies. Results for the cross sections for this reaction are influenced by various backgrounds encountered in measurements at such energies. In this paper, we report on a new measurement of C12+C12 fusion cross sections where these backgrounds have been minimized. It is found that the astrophysical S factor exhibits a maximum around Ecm=3.5-4.0 MeV, which leads to a reduction of the previously predicted astrophysical reaction rate.

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Physical Review C