Best of both worlds: Asteroids and massive mergers

The race is on. Since the construction of technology able to detect the ripples in space and time triggered by collisions from massive objects in the universe, astronomers around the world have been searching for the bursts ...

New millisecond pulsar discovered

Astronomers have reported a serendipitous discovery of a new millisecond pulsar as part of an observational campaign using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope. The newly detected pulsar has ...

Neutrons shed light on industrial catalyst for hydrogen production

Collaborators at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and U.S. universities used neutron scattering and other advanced characterization techniques to study how a prominent catalyst enables the "water-gas ...

Highly anticipated nuclear experiment underway

Neutron stars were recently in the news because the gravitational wave observatory, LIGO, detected a neutron star merger. Neutron stars are very interesting objects. A teaspoon of neutron star matter is so dense it would ...

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Neutron

The neutron is a subatomic particle with no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton.

Neutrons are usually found in atomic nuclei. The nuclei of most atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of protons in a nucleus is the atomic number and defines the type of element the atom forms. The number of neutrons determines the isotope of an element. For example, the carbon-12 isotope has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, while the carbon-14 isotope has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.

While bound neutrons in stable nuclei are stable, free neutrons are unstable; they undergo beta decay with a lifetime of just under 15 minutes (885.7 ± 0.8 s). Free neutrons are produced in nuclear fission and fusion. Dedicated neutron sources like research reactors and spallation sources produce free neutrons for the use in irradiation and in neutron scattering experiments.

Even though it is not a chemical element, the free neutron is sometimes included in tables of nuclides. It is then considered to have an atomic number of zero and a mass number of one.

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