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Extending the north-east limit of the chart of nuclides
J. Benlliure1, H. Alvarez-Pol1, T. Kurtukian-Nieto2, K. -H. Schmidt3, L. Audouin4, B. Blank2, F. Becker, E. Casarejos1, D. Cortina-Gil1, T. Enqvist3, B. Fernández5, M. Fernández-Ordóñez1, J. Giovinazzo2, D. Henzlova3, A. R. Junghans, B. Jurado2, P. Napolitani4, J. Pereira1, F. Rejmund5, O. Yordanov3

The existence of nuclei with exotic combinations of protons and neutrons provides fundamental information on the forces acting between nucleons. The maximum number of neutrons a given number of protons can bind, neutron drip line1, is only known for the lightest chemical elements, up to oxygen. For heavier elements, the larger its atomic number, the farther from this limit is the most neutron-rich known isotope. The properties of heavy neutron-rich nuclei also have a direct impact on understanding the observed abundances of chemical elements heavier than iron in our Universe. Above half of the abundances of these elements are thought to be produced in rapid-neutron capture reactions, r-process, taking place in violent stellar scenarios2 where heavy neutron-rich nuclei, far beyond the ones known up today, are produced. Here we present a major step forward in the production of heavy neutron-rich nuclei: the discovery of 73 new neutron-rich isotopes of chemical elements between tantalum (Z=72) and actinium (Z=89). This result proves that cold-fragmentation reactions3 at relativistic energies are governed by large fluctuations in isospin and energy dissipation making possible the massive production of heavy neutron-rich nuclei, paving then the way for the full understanding of the origin of the heavier elements in our Universe. It is expected that further studies providing ground and structural properties of the nuclei presented here will reveal further details on the nuclear shell evolution along Z=82 and N=126, but also on the understanding of the stellar nucleosyntheis r-process around the waiting point at A~190 defining the speed of the matter flow towards heavier fissioning nuclei.
1 :  Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
2 :  CENBG - Centre d'Etudes Nucléaires de Bordeaux Gradignan
3 :  GSI - Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung mbH
4 :  IPNO - Institut de Physique Nucléaire d'Orsay
5 :  GANIL - Grand Accélérateur National d'Ions Lourds
Physique/Physique Nucléaire Expérimentale
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