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Recent observations of the internal structure of the rare isotope ruthenium-88 shed new light on the internal structure of atomic nuclei, a breakthrough that could also lead to further insights into how some chemical elements in nature and their isotopes are formed.

Led by Bo Cederwall, Professor of Experimental Nuclear Physics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, an international research team identified new rotational states in the extremely neutron-deficient, deformed, atomic nucleus 88Ru. The results suggest that the structure of this exotic nuclear system is heavily influenced by the presence of strongly-coupled neutron-proton pairs.

"Such a structure is fundamentally different from the normal conditions observed in atomic nuclei, where neutrons and protons interact in pairs in separate systems, forming a near-superfluid state," Cederwall says.

The results may also suggest alternative explanations for how the production of different chemical elements, and in particular their most -poor isotopes, proceeds in the nucleosynthesis reactions in certain stellar environments such as neutron star-red giant binaries, he says.

The discovery, which was published February 12 in the journal, Physical Review Letters, results from an experiment at the Grand Accélérateur National d'Ions Lourds (GANIL), France, using the Advanced Gamma Tracking Array (AGATA).

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Category: Science