Through the Nuclear Looking Glass


mirror nuclei

Hidden Spin-Isospin Exchange Symmetry S

Nucleons can have two possible spins (up or down) and two different varieties or isospins (proton or neutron). The forces among the nucleons in an atomic nucleus are complicated since nucleons are built from more fundamental components known as quarks and gluons. In some cases, however, the nuclear force reveals itself to be simple and symmetrical, as though the distinction between spin and isospin is lost.


Glancing into a Nuclear Mirror: the Fate of Aluminum-26 in Stars

The destruction rate of 26Al by capturing a proton to make 27Si is critical for interpreting the amount of 26Mg observed in the Universe. This research shows that the rate for proton capture on the long-lived 0+ excited state is eight times less frequent that previously estimated. This was accomplished by studying the "mirror" reaction of adding a neutron to the 0+ ground state of 26Si. 

supernova explostion

A Forbidden Transition from Flourine-20 Allows for Stars


f20 beta decay

Charge Radii of Mirror Nuclei and the Neutron Matter Equation of State

The difference in the root-mean-square charge radii of mirror nuclei is shown to be a robust measure of the derivative of the symmetry energy and the neutron equation of state near nuclear saturation density. Due to Coulomb distortion, the neutron skin contains a extra term proportional to the value of the symmetry energy.


The Music of Nuclear Energy Level Spacings

The spacings for the complete set of energy levels up to 6.2 MeV in 208Pb have been analyzed in terms of GOE and Poisson distributions. The experimental result is in close agreement with the GOE  distribution. It is also in agreement with calculations based on a realistic residual interaction. The energy spacing have been converted into musical notes so that one can hear as well as see the difference.


A Nuclear Detective Story

The 30P(p,gamma)31S rapid-proton capture rate is one of the most important reactions that determines the fractions of elements up to calcium that are produced in novae. We are trying to match up the experimental and theoretical level-scheme finger prints for  31S in order to reduce the uncertainty in this reaction rate.


Collaboration Between Experiment and Theory

The theory group at the NSCL has expertise in many theoretical methods. Collaboration among the members of group and with the experimental program  at the NSCL provide the resources and interactions needed to make advances toward the overall goals of nuclear physics.

NSCL logo

The Puzzle of 46Ar

New mass measurements of 48Ar and 49Ar obtained at the NSCL are in excellent agreement with theory. Combined with AME 2012 masses they show, for first time, evidence for a shell gap at N=28 for argon. The experimental B(E2) at N=28 in 46Ar shows a reduction as qualitatively expected, but in contradiction to theory.

D_n value for neutron-rich argon

Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay

A new method is developed for calculating the nuclear matrix elements for neutrinoless double beta decay in nuclei in terms of an expansion over intermediate states of the nucleus with two less nucleons. We show that the matrix element is dominated by a transition through the ground state of this nucleus.

neutrinoless double beta

Modification of Brink-Axel

The shell model is used to calculate magnetic dipole (M1) and Gamow-Teller transitions from states at high excitation energy. The calculations for M1 explain the low energy enhancement observed in the gamma decay spectrum of Fe. Based on these results we propose a modification to the Bink-Axel hypothesis.


Level Density

New statistical methods have been developed for the calculation of level densities in the shell model basis. In cases where the they can be compared to the exact results the agreement is excellent.

level density for 28Si

The Neutron Equation of State

For the first time we have used ab initio calculations for low-density neutron matter together with data for the magic nuclei to constrain the Skryme form for the neutron equation of state for densities up to about 0.20 nucleons per fermi cubed.

Neutron Star


NuShellX@MSU is a powerful and widely used suite of computer programs for nuclear Configuration Interaction calculations of wavefunctions, energies and overlap matrix elements.


Boundary Between CI and EDF

A new method is proposed for combining features of configuration interaction theory and energy density functional theory.


Fighting for Subatomic Independence

The correlations of deeply bound protons with loosely bound neutrons is revealed to reduce the nucleon removal overlap.


Chaos and the Continuum

The unexpected results for the deviation of resonance widths from the expeted Porter-Thomas shape are explained by theory which contains coupling to the continuum.  The phenomenon is of general nature and it may influence all processes of signal transmission through a quantum system.


Search for the Three-Phonon Quadrupole

Theoretical predictions for gamma decay E2 strengths  in 62Ni are compared to new experimentsl results in the serach for evidence for decay of a possible three-phonon multiplet.

ni62 e2

Beyond the Neutron Drip Line

Predictions for properties nuetron unbound states in the nuetron-rich isotopes of oxygen are compared to recent experiments.

drip line

Islands of Shell Breaking

Regions of nuclei near the neutron drip line show that the traditional shell model magic numbers are often changed. The physics behind these changes is discussed here.

broken shell