Atomic core, shaken not stirred

Jan 05, 2012 By Ashley Yeager
Credit: Geo Martinez, 123rf.com.

When struck just right, protons and neutrons ring. The sub-atomic particles don’t jingle like when a hammer hits a bell. But they do jiggle in an odd dance where the protons move in one direction and the neutrons move the other way.

Studying this particular particle movement has been difficult because of other motion within an atom’s . But now, researchers using the High Intensity Gamma Ray Source, or HIGS, located on Duke’s campus, say they have gotten the best look yet at a nucleus as it starts its complex, resonant dance.

In the experiment, the researchers slammed a chunk of bismuth-209, which had 83 and 126 neutrons, with a polarized beam of high-energy photons.

The team then recorded all the gamma rays knocked from the nucleus after the collision. Based on the direction the gamma rays were traveling, the scientists were able to figure out the energy, width and strength of the resonance at which the particles’ rang.

The results, which appear in the Nov. 25 issue of Physical Review Letters, along with future studies on the vibrations of other nuclei planned at the HIGS facility will help theorists write a clear, accurate mathematical description of how protons and neutrons behave and also for the state of matter in black holes, stars and even in star explosions called supernovae.

Explore further: Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?

More information: New Method for Precise Determination of the Isovector Giant Quadrupole Resonances in Nuclei. Henshaw,S., Ahmed, M., Feldman, G., Nathan, A., and Weller, H. PRL 107, 222501 (2011). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.222501

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wallflowers become extroverts in a crowd

Sep 28, 2010

While it's long been said that two's company and three's a crowd, that's just how mesons like it. A recent experiment at DOE's Jefferson Lab demonstrates that these subatomic particles engage more with other particles when ...

Recommended for you

Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?

Apr 18, 2014

Putting is arguably the most important skill in golf; in fact, it's been described as a game within a game. Now a team of Rice engineering students has devised a training putter that offers golfers audio, ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Apr 17, 2014

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Macksb
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2012
Many analogies can be drawn. Consider one: the vortices that appear in superfluid helium when excess energy is added to the system, by, for example, rotating the container beyond a critical point. Such vortices are the physical manifestation of the superfluid system shedding the energy that cannot "fit" within the system.

Here, the "hammer" adds excess energy to a complex system, the nucleus. It does not fit. The system sheds the energy--protons doing so in one way, neutrons in another way.

In both cases, the dumped energy is in the form of quantized oscillations. Conversely, the system--superfluid helium, or the nucleus--is also a quantized system comprised of interconnected oscillations that must be just so; new energy must be shed, or the system will collapse. Those are the only two alternatives.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2012
Such resonances could explain the mechanism of cold fusion at certain cases, especially in connections with similar resonance of electron orbitals. We should realize, at the case of large atoms the binding energy of electrons at the bottom of orbitals becomes comparable to the binding energy of neutrons residing at the outer halo of nuclei, so that they could interact mutually.

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...