Start United States USA — IT Near-threshold resonance helps explain a controversial measurement of exotic decay in beryllium-11

Near-threshold resonance helps explain a controversial measurement of exotic decay in beryllium-11

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Most mass in everyday matter around us resides in protons and neutrons inside the atomic nucleus. However, the lifetime of a free neutron—one not bounded to a nucleus—is unstable, decaying by a process called beta decay. For neutrons, beta decay involves the emission of a proton, an electron, and an anti-neutrino. Beta decay is a common process.
September 28, 2022

Most mass in everyday matter around us resides in protons and neutrons inside the atomic nucleus. However, the lifetime of a free neutron—one not bounded to a nucleus—is unstable, decaying by a process called beta decay. For neutrons, beta decay involves the emission of a proton, an electron, and an anti-neutrino. Beta decay is a common process.

However, scientists have some significant uncertainties about the neutron lifetime and about the neutron decaying inside a nucleus that leads to a proton emission. This is called beta-delayed proton emission. There are only a few neutron-rich nuclei for which beta-delayed proton emission is energetically allowed. The radioactive nucleus beryllium-11 (11Be), an isotope that consists of 4 protons and 7 neutrons, with its last neutron very weakly bound, is among those rare cases.

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