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What is newly discovered Oxygen-28?

11:20 AM Sep 01, 2023 IST | Ground Report
what is newly discovered oxygen 28

A recently observed isotope of oxygen defies all scientific assumptions: it is oxygen-28, made up of the largest number of neutrons ever seen in the nucleus of an oxygen atom.

The most striking thing is that although theoretically, it should be stable, in reality, it "vanishes" and quickly disintegrates, calling into question the established knowledge about the number of particles in the nucleus of an atom and their behaviour.


A team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the United States have identified a new, hitherto unknown form of oxygen called oxygen-28, which has the highest number of neutrons observed so far in the nuclear composition of this element. Furthermore, its unstable characteristic contradicts known theories about the behaviour of these atomic structures.

Scientists appreciated that both oxygen-27 and oxygen-28 are unstable and have a short duration. They decompose into oxygen-24 along with 3 or 4 loose neutrons, depending on the case, rapidly. However, oxygen-28 stands out especially for "breaking the record" in the number of neutrons discovered in the nucleus of an oxygen atom: until today, the lead was occupied by oxygen-26, with 18 neutrons.


What is newly discovered Oxygen-28?

Oxygen-28, which has 20 neutrons and eight protons, is an isotope of oxygen. Scientists have created Oxygen-28, making it the heaviest version of oxygen ever. Unfortunately, Oxygen-28 is significantly less stable than what was expected.

We put our fundamental understanding of the nuclear world to a major test when we compared previously challenging theoretical predictions with Oxygen-28 (28O). This comparison revealed that Oxygen-28 plays a role in constraining various aspects of the underlying theory, as stated in a report by Durham University.


Surprise and mystery

Beyond this new limit surpassed in the number of neutrons, the researchers discovered a strange unstable characteristic in oxygen-28, which goes against the established theories about the composition of the atomic nucleus of these elements, according to an article published in ScienceAlert. 

Experiments at the Radioactive Isotope Beam Factory (RIBF) in Japan and computer simulations at ORNL enabled the recent study, published in the journal Nature.


The scientists used the RIBF instrument, a cyclotron accelerator designed to produce unstable isotopes, to generate various reactions and finally achieve the observation of oxygen-27 and oxygen-28. The scientists accomplished the observation of oxygen-27 and oxygen-28 using the RIBF instrument, a cyclotron accelerator created to generate unstable isotopes.

Both oxygen-27 and oxygen-28 are unstable and last only a short period of time, in the blink of an eye, decomposing into oxygen-24 accompanied by 3 or 4 loose neutrons, as appropriate in each case.


Scientists recognized that both oxygen-27 and oxygen-28 are unstable and have a brief duration. They observed that these isotopes decompose rapidly into oxygen-24, releasing 3 or 4 loose neutrons based on the situation.

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