Neutron stars are the densest objects known in the universe, even more than black holes, and the almost unimaginable pressure in their centers would certainly suffice to crush or rupture anything that was unfortunate enough to damage themselves to find there. But it turns out that the relatively modest proton is an order of magnitude larger than neutron stars when it comes to internal pressure.
Nuclear physicists at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) have z The first time the feat of measuring the pressure distribution within a proton – one of the three major subatomic particles, along with the electron and the neutron, that makes up all the atoms. And they found that quarks ̵
"We found an extremely high pressure from the center of the proton outward and a much lower and more inward pressure near the proton" the periphery, "explains Volker Burkert, head of Jefferson Lab Hall B and co-author a paper describing the measurements, in a statement on Wednesday.
The quarks that make up a proton are held together by the strong force – one of the four fundamental forces in physics – that runs on another elementary particle called Gluon The strong force within protons defines the pressure distribution.
"Our results also provide information about the distribution of strong force in the proton. We offer a way to visualize the strength and distribution of the strong force in the proton. This opens up a whole new direction in nuclear and particle physics that can be explored in the future, "said Burkert in the statement.
About this To carry out the measurement, two separate theoretical frameworks had to be compiled: the process involved the scattering of electrons at quarks within protons, which then emitted high-energy photons, which were combined with the scattered electrons and their rebound, and their observation allowed researchers to measure the pressure distribution within the protons. A measurement, according to Jefferson Lab, was "once thought impossible"
the beauty of it. You have this card that you think you will never get. But here we are, fill this electromagnetic probe, "said Latifa Elouadrhiri, a Jefferson laboratory scientist and co-author on paper,
Next, researchers hope to use the technique to reduce the uncertainties in their analysis, and also to discover other mechanical properties of the proton, such as its internal shear force and its mechanical radius.
"This work opens a new research area on the fundamental gravitational properties of protons, neutrons and nuclei, which can provide access to their physical radii, the internal shear forces acting on the quarks and their pressure distribution, "reads the summary of the paper.
The work was published Wednesday in the journal Nature entitled" The Pressure Distribution Within the Proton. "