New Subatomic Structure With Four Neutrons Now Possible

Nature can create various things, but then also has its limits. There are things that cannot be possible, or so it seems. A physicist recently shows that a new subatomic structure is possible, even though people say it can't be done.

Neutrons are highly unstable. They cannot remain such for too long and will convert into protons after ten minutes. That is why a group of neutrons cannot remain for too long because of its unstable nature. However, James Vary, who is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University has demonstrated that it can be done.

Vary and visiting scientist Andrey Shirokov and an international team have shown through supercomputer simulations that a group of neutrons called a tetraneutron is possible. A tetraneutron is a group made up of four neutrons.

A tetraneutron can create a resonance, which is a structure stable enough before decaying. The tetraneutron doesn't last very long. The tetraneutron created by the simulation lasted for only 5x10^(-22) seconds before decaying. It might not be long, but the time is enough to study neutrons and see how strong neutron bonds can form.

The simulation done by the team has validated an earlier observed evidence of a tetraneutron at the RIKEN Radioactive Ion Beam Factory (RIBF) in Saitama, Japan, as the Iowa State University site reports. Looking for evidence of a tetraneutron has taken a long time. For 40 years scientists looked for its existence, with little success.

For the Japanese research, a beam of Helium-8 has been collided with a regular Helium-4 atom. The result is a tetraneutron along with another Helium-4 atom. The tetraneutron's life was brief even in that experiment.

So far there is not much objects in nature that is made up of neutrons except for a neutron star, Science Daily notes. A neutron star is a collapsed star with a mass equal to that of the Sun but whose size is greatly smaller than it. Research is still needed if there are other objects that can be created much like that of a neutron star made up of neutrons.

Many have long thought that a group of neutrons cannot exist naturally until a physicist shows that a new subatomic structure is possible. With the creation of a tetraneutron, there are more possibilities in research now available. An earlier experiment has also shown how planets are formed.

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