Formation of α clusters in dilute neutron-rich matter

Junki Tanaka, Zaihong Yang, Stefan Typel, Satoshi Adachi, Shiwei Bai, Patrik van Beek, Didier Beaumel, Yuki Fujikawa, Jiaxing Han, Sebastian Heil, Siwei Huang, Azusa Inoue, Ying Jiang, Marco Knösel, Nobuyuki Kobayashi, Yuki Kubota, Wei Liu, Jianling Lou, Yukie Maeda, Yohei MatsudaKenjiro Miki, Shoken Nakamura, Kazuyuki Ogata, Valerii Panin, Heiko Scheit, Fabia Schindler, Philipp Schrock, Dmytro Symochko, Atsushi Tamii, Tomohiro Uesaka, Vadim Wagner, Kazuki Yoshida, Juzo Zenihiro, Thomas Aumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The surface of neutron-rich heavy nuclei, with a neutron skin created by excess neutrons, provides an important terrestrial model system to study dilute neutron-rich matter. By using quasi-free α cluster- knockout reactions, we obtained direct experimental evidence for the formation of α clusters at the surface of neutron-rich tin isotopes. The observed monotonous decrease of the reaction cross sections with increasing mass number, in excellent agreement with the theoretical prediction, implies a tight interplay between α-cluster formation and the neutron skin. This result, in turn, calls for a revision of the correlation between the neutron-skin thickness and the density dependence of the symmetry energy, which is essential for understanding neutron stars. Our result also provides a natural explanation for the origin of α particles in α decay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
Issue number6526
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 15


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