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  • richardmitnick 4:10 pm on November 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), ,   

    From NSCL: “Nickel-56 Gives the 411 on Type 2 and 1a Supernova” 

    “‘We are made of star stuff.’ – Carl Sagan. The quote isn’t some fantastic claim made by a science fiction writer. A lot of the “stuff” found on earth is created in stars. Two astronomical phenomena that are thought to be responsible for the creation of elements such as iron and heavier elements are core-collapse and thermonuclear supernovae. In the former type, a massive star collapses after it has burned its nuclear fuel through fusion and can no longer withstand the gravitational forces. Eventually, it ejects material into space after the density has increased so much that a powerful shockwave destroys the star. The latter kind is thought to involve a white dwarf star that slowly accretes matter from a nearby companion star, which can ignite and explode due the increased pressure, density and temperature in the star.

    Many questions remain about how exactly these gigantic explosions take place, but they have one thing in common – a particular type of nuclear reaction called electron-capture plays an important part in both.

    An experiment recently conducted by an international team of researchers led by the charge-exchange group at NSCL is helping to answer some of the questions about electron capture. The experiment uses a new technique to extract information about nuclear reactions involving the unstable isotopes that are critical for performing accurate simulations of the supernovae. The technique involves impinging a beam of unstable isotopes of the kind that are thought to exist in pre-supernova stars on a target of liquid hydrogen and measuring recoiling neutrons.”

    That is enough from me. See the full article here.

  • richardmitnick 2:51 pm on August 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL),   

    From NSCL: “Hunting the Mass of a Neutrino” 

    No writer credit

    “Roughly 65 billion neutrinos from the sun pass through every square centimeter of the Earth every second without making the slightest impact. Besides being mind-boggling small and cruising around at nearly the speed of light, these particles only interact with the rest of the universe through the weak interaction. This force is so weak, in fact, neutrinos simply pass right through the Earth, right along with any detectors physicists build to design to catch them.

    Well, most of them do, but not quite all of them.

    Scientists all over the world are working on new experiments aimed at revealing more information about neutrinos. Nuclear scientists like those at NSCL play an important role in these experiments, as many of these studies involve a special type of radioactive nuclear decay. Known as neutrinoless double beta decay, the process is a close cousin of a well-known decay that emits neutrinos.

    Recently, scientists from NSCL contributed to this worldwide effort by investigating the nuclear structure of the double beta decay of neodymium-150, one of the main candidate nuclei for catching this rare process in action.

    Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay

    A standard beta decay involves protons or neutrons spontaneously turning into one another, which creates byproducts like electrons, positrons and neutrinos. In double beta decay, two neutrons in a nucleus decay simultaneously, emitting two neutrinos and positrons. Depending on the still unknown fundamental nature of neutrinos, this standard process of double beta decay could take place without the neutrinos being emitted from the nucleus. In this extremely rare case, neutrons in the nucleus absorb the neutrinos emitted before they can escape the nucleus.

    However, there is a catch….” And, so, there hangs the tale.

    See the full article here.

    Beta (β) decay is a type of radioactive decay in which a beta particle – an electron or a positron – is emitted in conjunction with a neutrino or antineutrino due to a proton turning into a neutron or vice versa. In double beta decay, two neutrons turn into protons and two beta particles (electrons) are emitted. In the (regular) double beta decay process, depicted on the left, two neutrinos are emitted in the process as well. But in neutrinoless double beta decay, shown on the right, the neutrinos are internally absorbed and only two electrons are emitted. The regular double beta decay processes is well-known; observation of neutrinoless double beta decay would reveal that neutrinos are their own anti particles and allow for the determination of the neutrino mass


  • richardmitnick 3:32 pm on April 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL)   

    From National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory: Video – “The Small Matter of Big Science” 

    National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University gives us this terrific video which explains the importance for our future of basic research.

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