New Measurement of the Direct 3α Decay from the C12 Hoyle State

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Excited states in certain atomic nuclei possess an unusual structure, where the dominant degrees of freedom are those of α clusters rather than individual nucleons. It has been proposed that the diffuse 3α system of the 12C Hoyle state may behave like a Bose-Einstein condensate, where the α clusters maintain their bosonic identities. By measuring the decay of the Hoyle state into three α particles, we obtained an upper limit for the rare direct 3α decay branch of 0.047%. This value is now at a level comparable with theoretical predictions and could be a sensitive probe of the structure of this state.
Original languageEnglish
Article number132502
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2017


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