How are neutrons significant?
Neutrons are located in the nuclei of atoms, along with the protons. When the quanities of neutrons vary, isotopes are created. These new isotopes are formed through the process of nuclear fission in which a neutron collides with a larger atom which then separates into smaller atoms. Fission also results in the production of more neutrons which cause more reactions. Additionally, neutrons utilize chain reactions which are continued after nuclear fission. The splitting of the larger atom into smaller ones creates the energy necessary for the chain reactions.
Neutron stars are created when regular stars explode after using all of their available fuel and can no longer take part in nuclear fusion. When the star collapses and condenses upon itself to form this type of star, the immense density causes the protons and electrons to combine in order to create neutrons and neutrinos. Although neutron stars have diameters of about 20 km, they can have masses about 1.5-2 times that of the sun! The composition of their cores is still unknown, but a scientist may one day be neutral enough to discover it!
- What are some other purposes of neutrons other than nuclear fission and chain reactions? (use the first resource link if necessary)
- What happens to pulsars after they revolve for millions of years and lose all of their energy? (use the second resource link if necessary)
- Of the main scientists involved with neutrons, who do you believe made the most significant discoveries or the most important additions? (use the third resource link if necessary)