The researchers, with Mikhail Zhukov as a theoretical advisor, present a very rare form of radioactivity, namely disintegration via the emission of three protons. One can say that they have discovered the most exotic beast in the unbound nuclear zoo.
“We can present a unique system, consisting of nineteen protons and twelve neutrons. Such a system has never been observed before. Our discovery shows that there is a possibility to find structures beyond the proton dripline in the Chart of the Nuclides,” said Mikhail Zhukov.
The atomic nucleus itself, which has been discovered through this decay channel, Potassium-31, is surprisingly long-lived. However, long-lived in this context is quite short: the lifetime is only ten picoseconds.
The new discovery has been selected a Research Highlight by the prestigious journal Nature.
For Chalmers, this breakthrough means that the experimental subatomic physics group – planning new experiments at the future FAIR facility in Darmstadt, Germany – challenges many new interesting discoveries over the coming years. The published studies were performed at the current facility on the site - GSI.