Asteroids may hide never-before-seen elements from outside the periodic table

The densest naturally occurring element in the periodic table is the metal osmium. At room temperature, it forms a dense solid 22.59 grams per cubic centimeter – Almost double As dense as the Earth’s inner core and almost as dense as the atmosphere Essence of Jupiter.

But there are some objects in the solar system that appear denser than osmium; Not even planetary cores, but asteroids, which do not have the mass necessary to compress metals into a very dense state.

This has led scientists to speculate that naturally occurring stable elements exist outside the periodic table — even outside of the unstable superheavy radioactive elements between atomic numbers 105 and 118, which have only been observed in laboratory settings.

It is not known whether elements with more than 118 protons would be stable, and they have certainly never been observed, either in the wild or in laboratories. But theoretical work suggests that there is Island of stability around Atomic number 164Ultraheavy elements are not susceptible to radioactive decay and can remain present, at least for some time.

Because these heavier elements are expected to be denser, they could explain the strange observations related to the asteroid 33 Polyhymenia, a rock in the asteroid belt that is about 50 to 60 kilometers (about 30 to 36 miles) across. One measure derived the density of 33 polyhymenia 75.28 grams per cubic centimeterand classified as a potential superdense object (Kudo).

This maximum is likely the result of an incorrect measurement. Even the astronomer who made this calculation He pointed out that it is unrealistic.

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But physicists Ivan LaForge, Will Price, and Johan Ravelski of the University of Arizona wanted to check whether this density is at least physically plausible.

They based their work on a model of the atom called… Thomas Fermi model, known as a primitive but useful method for forming fundamental approximations of some atomic behaviors. In this context, the researchers studied the atomic structure of hypothetical super-heavy elements.

“We chose this model, despite its relative imprecision, because it allows the systematic exploration of atomic behavior as a function of atomic number outside the known periodic table.” says Ravelsky.

“Another consideration is that it also enabled us to explore many more atoms in the short time available to Ivan [LaForge]”Our wonderful college student.”

Their calculations agreed with the stability island previously expected to be located at atomic number 164. They showed that the density range for this element lies between 36 and 68.4 grams per cubic centimeter. This is close to the high density calculation of 33 polyhymenia.

This does not mean that 33 Polyhymnia is too dense. It just means that there could be an explanation for that (possibly wrong) measurement of superdensity that doesn’t require access to the mysterious basket of matter.

“The purpose of this study was to determine whether CUDOs with extreme mass densities could be achieved without the need for exotic or dark matter as they are typically called for.” The researchers write in their paper.

“We did this while exploring two different nuclear systems using Thomas Fermi’s relativistic model. By exploring both standard nuclei and alpha matter, it is clear that both types of nuclear matter can explain the density seen in CUDOs like asteroid 33. Polyhymnia.”

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They say this work demonstrates the utility of the Thomas-Fermi model for exploring the properties of hypothetical superheavy elements, and provides the basis for more powerful analyses.

The search appears in European Physical Journal Plus.

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