Nuclear Astrophysics

Clarifying a key step in the origin of the elements

Clarifying a key step in the origin of the elements: As reported in Physical Review C (2016) researchers using GRIFFIN have produced the highest-precision measurement ever of the half-life of cadmium-130  (130Cd), a rare isotope that's a cornerstone for understanding cosmic element formation. Astrophysical observations are providing mounting evidence that heavy elements are forged in the merger of neutron stars. However, to understand and accurately simulate this element formation process (r-process), it's necessary to experimentally characterize the key rare isotopes involved. This is especially the case for the half-lives of isotopes with masses of about 130 since theoretical models have been tuned to reproduce the half-life of 130Cd and then predict half-lives in the entire region. Thus, scientists used GRIFFIN to produce a 130Cd half-life measurement three-times more precise than the previously adopted world average, a result which will help astrophysicists more clearly see our stardust origins.