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Heavy elements are produced during stellar explosion or on the surfaces of neutron stars through the capture of hydrogen nuclei (protons). This occurs at extremely high temperatures, but at relatively low energies. An international research team headed by Goethe University has now succeeded in investigating the capture of protons at the storage ring of the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung.
As the scientists report in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, their goal was to determine more precisely the probability for a proton capture in astrophysical scenarios. As Dr. Jan Glorius from the GSI atomic physics research department explains, they were faced with two challenges in this endeavour: "The reactions are most probable under astrophysical circumstances in an energy range called the Gamow window. In this range, nuclei tend to be somewhat slow, making them difficult to obtain in the required intensity. In addition, the cross section—the probability of proton capture—decreases rapidly with energy. Until now, it has been almost impossible to create the right conditions in a laboratory for these kinds of reactions."
René - Reifarth - Professor - Astrophysics - Goethe
René Reifarth, Professor for experimental astrophysics at Goethe University suggested a solution as early as 10 years ago: The low energies within the Gamow window range can be reached more precisely when the heavy...
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