The secret of the formation of neutron stars was revealed by studying the nucleus of the atom

Researchers managed to better understand the effect of the strong nuclear force, including in neutron stars, by computer simulation of the nucleus of the atom.

BingMag.com The secret of the formation of neutron stars was revealed by studying the nucleus of the atom

Researchers managed to better understand the effect of the strong nuclear force, including in neutron stars, by computer simulation of the nucleus of the atom.

Scientists believe that collisions of massive neutron stars in space can create precious metals such as gold and platinum. Although the properties of these stars are still a mystery, a better understanding of their formation process may lie in one of the smallest building blocks of matter on earth, namely the nucleus of the lead atom. Ruling in neutron stars is difficult, but according to an article published in Nature Physics, a computer simulation by Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has provided insight and made progress in calculating the atomic nucleus of the heavy and stable element lead. .

The important role of the strong nuclear force

Despite the enormous size difference of several kilometers between a microscopic atomic nucleus and a neutron star, some identical physical laws govern them. including the strong nuclear force that keeps the particles inside the nucleus of the atom, i.e. protons and neutrons, together and prevents the collapse of a neutron star. Computational models are particularly difficult and challenging for heavy neutron-rich atomic nuclei such as lead.

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A reliable way to perform calculations

But for comparison between laboratory observations and theory there is no choice but simulation. Therefore, the Chalmers University research team tried to create a reliable theoretical simulation and succeeded in performing such calculations for the heaviest stable element, lead. is a step forward and makes it possible to accurately predict the properties of the lead-208 isotope* and its so-called neutron shell.

shell thickness

126 neutrons in the nucleus of a lead atom There are those that form an outer cover or in other words a shell. The thickness of this shell is related to the properties of the strong nuclear force, and its prediction helps to better understand the operation of the strong nuclear force in both atomic nuclei and neutron stars. According to the simulations, this very thin neutron shell and thus provides a new insight into the force between neutrons. One of the groundbreaking aspects of the new modeling is that it not only makes such predictions possible, but also has the ability to assess the margin of error. What, according to "Christian Forssn" (Christian Forssn), head of research and professor at the Chalmers School of Physics, is very important for the progress of science in this field. Developing new computational models, researchers have combined existing theories with data from experimental studies. Then, they performed complex calculations with the statistical method that was previously used to simulate the possible spread of the corona virus.

Thus, with the new model of the nucleus of the lead atom, it is now possible to evaluate various hypotheses about the strong nuclear force. This model also makes it possible to predict the effect of this force in other atomic nuclei, from the lightest to the heaviest.

This development can lead to more accurate models, including for neutron stars, and increase knowledge about their formation process. . Which, according to Forsen, could bring scientists one step closer to understanding how gold and other elements form in neutron stars.

Cover photo: A graphical representation of the effect of the strong nuclear force on neutron stars
Credit: JingChen, Chalmers University of Technology/Yen Strandqvist

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