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Just over a decade ago scientists pushed magnesium atoms to new limits, jamming extra neutrons into their nuclei toward—and possibly reaching—the maximum limit for this element.

Now, an international team led by scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has reproduced this exotic system, known as magnesium-40, and gleaned new and surprising clues about its nuclear structure.

"Magnesium-40 sits at an intersection where there are a lot of questions about what it really looks like," said Heather Crawford, a staff scientist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab and lead author of this study, published online Feb. 7 in the Physical Review Letters journal. "It's an extremely exotic species."

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Category: Science