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From Alchemists to Astrophysicists: Do Asteroids Hide Superheavy Secrets?

Scientists have been creating superheavy elements and believe elements with around 164 protons might be stable. Determining their density is crucial, with asteroids being potential reservoirs. Space missions are underway to analyze asteroid samples for these elements.

Scientists theorize asteroids could hold superheavy elements, potentially revolutionizing our understanding of atomic structure and the cosmos.

For centuries, the quest for new elements was a driving force in many scientific disciplines. Understanding an atomAn atom is the smallest component of an element. It is made up of protons and neutrons within the nucleus, and electrons circling the nucleus.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>atom’s structure and the development of nuclear science allowed scientists to accomplish the old goal of alchemists – turning one element into another.

Over the past few decades, scientists in the United States, Germany, and Russia have figured out how to use special tools to combine two atomic nuclei and create new, superheavy elements.

These heavy elements usually aren’t stable. Heavier elements have more protons, or positively charged particles in the nucleus; some that scientists have created have up to 118. With that many protons, the electromagnetic repulsive forces between protons in the atomic nuclei overwhelm the attractive nuclear force that keeps the nucleus together.

Reference: “Superheavy elements and ultradense matter” by Evan LaForge, Will Price and Johann Rafelski, 15 September 2023, The European Physical Journal Plus.
DOI: 10.1140/epjp/s13360-023-04454-8

Source: SciTechDaily