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What Happens When Atoms are Compressed?

  1. Mar 13, 2006 #1
    I couldnt really simulate this in my brain, What will happen when atoms are compressed up to an infinte level ( extreamly great presure ) Will the atoms split up? if so what will the product be?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2006 #2
    The short answer is that this cannot be done. The electromagnetic repulsion would be stronger than anything that could be used to try and compress them.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2006 #3

    mrjeffy321

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    An example of atoms [matter] being extremely compressed can be seen in neutron stars. Neutron stars are EXTREMELY dense (only a small step away from a black hole), so dense that the matter has been compressed into neutrons. My understanding is that when you compress the atom so much, the electrons and protons combine to form a neutron and a neutrino, this neutrino flies off into space and leaves the neutron behind in the star, hence its name, a neutron star. The more matter you add to a neutron star, the smaller it becomes as the additional gravitational force compressed it further and further.
     
  5. Mar 14, 2006 #4
    Neutron -> proton + electron + antielectroneutrino
     
  6. Mar 14, 2006 #5

    mrjeffy321

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    I know I read somewhere that protons + electrons --> neutron + neutrino, perhaps this is where I read it,
    http://www.astro.umd.edu/~miller/nstar.html#formation
    However, I have also read (in a more reliable source) that free neutrons will naturally decay to form a proton, electron and antineutrino.
     
  7. Mar 14, 2006 #6

    GCT

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    You may also want to ask this question in one of the physics subforums.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2006 #7

    chroot

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    The reaction

    protons + electrons --> neutron + neutrino

    is correct, because it conserves lepton number. One lepton (the electron) on the left, one lepton (the neutrino) on the right. Of course, it also conserves nucleon number and so on.

    The conversion of matter into neutrons in a neutron star involves so-called "neutron drip," in which free neutrons are expelled from unstable nuclei.

    The neutrinos escape the star completely.

    Supernovas are believed to be events in which neutron stars or, if possible, black holes are formed. The visible-light "explosions" of supernovae are coincident with showers of neutrinos, lending the hypothesis considerable support.

    - Warren
     
  9. Mar 14, 2006 #8

    chroot

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    I should also mention the general pattern of what happens when you compress matter.

    1) When compressed, temperatures rise, and matter enters the plasma phase. Nuclei coexist with free electrons.

    2) As force is increased, pressure reaches a plateau created by the quantum-mechanical inability of more than one electron to exist in a single quantum-mechanical state. This pressure is called "electron degeneracy pressure," and supports white dwarf stars.

    3) As force is increased further, neutron drip begins and the matter eventually turns into a sea of free neutrons. Another level of degeneracy pressure exists at this level, now called "neutron degeneracy pressure."

    4) As force is increased even further, this neutron degeneracy pressure is finally overcome, and there exists no (known) mechanism to prevent the matter from being compressed all the way down to a point of infinite density, forming a black hole. We expect that a quantum theory of gravity will preclude infinite density, but will explain black holes in essentially the same way.

    - Warren
     
  10. Mar 16, 2006 #9
    Thankyou Warren It was really helpfull
     
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