Combining Heavy Ion Experiments and Nuclear Theory

Artist rendering showing the simulation of two merging neutron stars (left) and the trails of emerging particles that can be seen in a heavy ion collision (right) that creates matter under similar conditions in the laboratory. Credit: Tim Dietrich, Arnaud Le Fevre, Kees Huyser; background: ESA/Hubble, Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Combining heavy ion experiments, astrophysical observations and nuclear theory.

When a massive star explodes in a supernova, if it is not completely destroyed, it will leave behind a black hole or a star.

neutron stars are formed when a giant star runs out of fuel and collapses. They are among the densest objects in the cosmos, with a single cube-sized piece weighing 1 billion tons (1 trillion kg).

Across the Universe, neutron stars are born in supernova explosions that mark the end of the lives of massive stars. Sometimes neutron stars are linked in binary systems and will eventually collide with each other. These high-energy astrophysical phenomena exhibit conditions so extreme that they produce most heavy elements such as silver and gold. Consequently, neutron stars and their collisions are unique laboratories for studying the properties of matter at densities far beyond the densities within atomic nuclei. Heavy ion collision experiments conducted with particle accelerators are a complementary way to produce and probe matter at high densities and under extreme conditions.

New insights into the fundamental interactions at play in nuclear matter

“Combining knowledge of nuclear theory, nuclear experiment and astrophysical observations is essential to clarify the properties of neutron-rich matter across the full density range probed in neutron stars,” said Sabrina Huth, Institute of Nuclear Physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt. , who is one of the main authors of the publication. Peter TH Pang, another lead author at the Institute for Gravitational and Subatomic Physics (GRASP), University of Utrecht, added: “We found that the constraints of gold ion collisions with particle accelerators show remarkable consistency with astrophysical observations, although they are obtained with completely different methods”.

Artist's Depiction of the Neutron Star

Artistic representation of a neutron star. Credit: ESO / L. Sidewalk

Recent progress in multi-messenger astronomy has allowed the international research team, involving researchers from Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and Sweden, to gain new insights into the fundamental interactions at play in nuclear matter. In an interdisciplinary effort, the researchers included information obtained from heavy ion collisions in a structure that combines astronomical observations of electromagnetic signals, measurements of

Reference: “Constraining neutron-star matter with microscopic and macroscopic collisions” by Sabrina Huth, Peter TH Pang, Ingo Tews, Tim Dietrich, Arnaud Le Fèvre, Achim Schwenk, Wolfgang Trautmann, Kshitij Agarwal, Mattia Bulla, Michael W. Coughlin and Chris Van Den Broeck, June 8, 2022, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04750-w

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: