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Explosion or Collapse? Experiment on Beta-decay Sheds Light on Fate of Intermediate-mass Stars

16 Jan 2020, 14:51 UTC
Explosion or Collapse? Experiment on Beta-decay Sheds Light on Fate of Intermediate-mass Stars
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A group of scientists, among them several from GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and from Technical University of Darmstadt, succeeded to experimentally determine characteristics of nuclear processes in matter ten million times denser and 25 times hotter than the center of our Sun.A result of the measurement is that intermediate-mass stars are very likely to explode, and not, as assumed until now, collapse. The findings are now published in the scientific magazine Physical Review Letters. They stress the fascinating opportunities offered by future accelerator facilities like FAIR in understanding the processes defining the evolution of the Universe.Stars have different evolutionary paths depending on their mass. Low-mass stars such as the Sun will eventually become white dwarfs. Massive stars, on the other hand, finish with a spectacular explosion known as a supernova, leaving either a neutron star or a black hole behind. The fate of both low- and high-mass stars is well understood but the situation for intermediate-mass stars, which weigh between seven and eleven times as much as the Sun, has remained unclear. This is surprising since intermediate-mass stars are prevalent in our Galaxy.“The final fate of intermediate-mass stars depends on a tiny detail, namely, how readily the isotope neon-20 captures ...

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