Can a hydrogen atom become a neutron?

  • #1
I read this from Nasa's website:

"Within the first second after the Big Bang, the temperature had fallen considerably, but was still very hot - about 100 billion Kelvin (1011 K). At this temperature, protons, electrons and neutrons had formed, but they moved with too much energy to form atoms. Even protons and neutrons had so much energy that they bounced off each other. However, neutrons were being created and destroyed as a result of interactions between protons and electrons. There was enough energy that the protons and the much lighter electrons combined together with enough force to form neutrons. But some neutrons "decayed" back into a positive proton and a negative electron."

Does this mean that under enough pressure a hydrogen atom can become a neutron?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
anuttarasammyak
Gold Member
909
405
Yes. In some condition all the electrons and protons in a star could be compressed by gravity to become neutrons which form a neutron star.
 
  • Like
Likes Astronuc, vanhees71, Orodruin and 1 other person
  • #3
487
146
...and the reverse? Would a bunch of free neutrons just turn into hydrogen? That would mean no neutronium meteors carving holes in the Earth?
 
  • Like
Likes ProjectFringe
  • #4
PeroK
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
2020 Award
17,568
9,339
...and the reverse? Would a bunch of free neutrons just turn into hydrogen? That would mean no neutronium meteors carving holes in the Earth?
A free neutron decays into a proton, electron and neutrino. Typically there is too much kinetic energy for the proton and electron to be bound as a hydrogen atom.
 
  • Like
Likes vanhees71, Algr and ProjectFringe
  • #5
1,687
272
A free neutron decays into a proton, electron and neutrino.
No, antineutrino.
Typically there is too much kinetic energy for the proton and electron to be bound as a hydrogen atom.
The energy is divided between electron and antineutrino.It is possible but rare for antineutrino to get all or almost all the energy and leave electron bound. The opposite is unlikely because antineutrino has no bound state to either proton or electron.
 
  • Like
Likes Buzz Bloom, vanhees71, Algr and 1 other person
  • #6
Thanks everyone for your responses!:biggrin:
 

Related Threads on Can a hydrogen atom become a neutron?

Replies
22
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
13K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
8K
Top