An atom sheds light on neutron stars

An atom sheds light on neutron stars

Measurements of heavy form of zinc allow astronomers to model the crust of dead stars

By Andrew Grant, 10:33 AM January 31, 2013

The precise measurement of an exotic atom in the laboratory has refined scientists’ understanding of neutron stars, which are among the universe’s most extreme objects. The study, published January 22 in Physical Review Letters, could help scientists determine whether the crusts of neutron stars serve as the source of dozens of heavy elements such as zinc, silver and gold.

“One of the universe’s overriding mysteries is where heavy elements originate,” says James Lattimer, an astrophysicist ...

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