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Under ideal conditions could there be thousands of elements?

  1. Nov 23, 2015 #1
    Right now I think there's 118 elements. If somewhere in space it was a certain temperature, with certain pressure, and other certain factors, could there be more elements. Let's say these conditions are too extreme to be made on Earth like a Trillion degrees Celsius.

    So if there were there ideal conditions, could there be thousands of elements?

    Or could the unstable elements scientists can create on earth become stable?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    Do you think a super high temperature would be conducive to the formation of stable elements? Of ANY elements?
     
  4. Nov 23, 2015 #3
    There are two conditions that might meet your requirements:
    Under the right conditions (think supernova), you could have an equilibrium that included elements of higher atomic number. You would be creating them as fast as they were decaying. But I doubt that you get to a thousand that way.

    The other condition is a neutron star. The neutron density at the interior of a neutron star is limited by the Pauli exclusion principle, so its as dense as an atomic nucleus. I'll let you decide if that counts.

    http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/learning_center/ASM/ns.html
     
  5. Nov 23, 2015 #4

    fresh_42

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    Can it be ruled out that there is another stability area on higher nuclei numbers, e.g. around 150 protons?
     
  6. Nov 23, 2015 #5

    SteamKing

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    Let's suppose there was such a region.

    Where are these super-heavy elements, if they are stable? They haven't been found on earth, nor do they appear in the spectrum of any current or past star, AFAIK.
    You'd think that after several billion years, some evidence of these elements would have been discovered, if they are indeed stable.
     
  7. Nov 23, 2015 #6

    fresh_42

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    Yes you are right under the assumption that they occur naturally in supernovae explosions. But that doesn't rule out the possibility to produce them in heavy ion colliders. Another question here is: Do the transactinides decay so fast only because we can generate them in excited states? What about all the isotopes we haven't produced so far? I just read that Fermium has been found in a hydrogen bomb explosion. I guess we haven't found it in the universe neither although it might occur during a supernova collapse.
     
  8. Nov 24, 2015 #7

    DrDu

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    There is also a limit on the number of electrons in the atomic shell. This is roughly the inverse of the fine structure constant, i.e. about 137.
     
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