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A hypernucleus is a nucleus which contains at least one hyperon (a baryon carrying the strangeness quantum number) in addition to the normal protons and neutrons. The first was discovered by Marian Danysz and Jerzy Pniewski in 1952 using the nuclear emulsion technique, based on their energetic but delayed decay. They have also been studied by measuring the momenta of the K and pi mesons in the direct strangeness exchange reactions.

The strangeness quantum number is conserved by the strong and electromagnetic interactions, a variety of reactions give access to depositing one or more units of strangeness in a nucleus. Hypernuclei containing the lightest hyperon, the Lambda, live long enough to have sharp nuclear energy levels. Therefore, they offer opportunities for nuclear spectroscopy, as well as reaction mechanism study and other types of nuclear physics (hypernuclear physics).

Hypernuclear physics differs from that of normal nuclei because a hyperon, having a non-zero strangeness quantum number, can share space and momentum coordinates with the usual four nucleon states that can differ from each other in spin and isospin. That is, they are not restricted by the Pauli exclusion principle from any single-particle state in the nucleus. The ground state of helium-5-Lambda, for example, must resemble helium-4 more than it does helium-5 or lithium-5 and must be stable, apart from the eventual weak decay of the lambda with a mean lifetime of 278±11 ps.[1]Sigma hypernuclei have been sought,[2] as have doubly-strange nuclei containing Cascade baryons.

Hypernuclei can be made by a nucleus capturing a Lambda or a K meson and boiling off neutrons in a compound nuclear reaction, or, perhaps most easily, by the direct strangeness exchange reaction.

+ nucleus →
+ hypernucleus

A generalized mass formula developed for both the non-strange normal nuclei and strange hypernuclei can estimate masses of hypernuclei containing Lambda, Lambda-Lambda, Sigma, Cascade and Theta+ hyperon(s).[3][4] The neutron and proton driplines for hypernuclei are predicted and existence of some exotic hypernuclei beyond the normal neutron and proton driplines are suggested.[5] This generalized mass formula was named as "Samanta Formula" by Botvina and Pochodzalla and used to predict relative yields of hypernuclei in multifragmentation of nuclear spectator matter.[6]

The Hall C[7] and Hall A[8] of the US Jefferson National Laboratory (JLab), in Newport News, Virginia, is currently involved among other international laboratories in research on the hypernuclei.[9]


  1. ^ Gal, A.; Hungerford, E. V.; Millener, D. J. (26 August 2016). "Strangeness in nuclear physics". Reviews of Modern Physics. 88 (3). doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.88.035004.
  2. ^ M. May (1994). "Recent results and directions in hypernuclear and kaon physics" (PDF). In A. Pascolini (ed.). PAN XIII: Particles and Nuclei. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-1799-0. OSTI 10107402.
  3. ^ C. Samanta (2006). "Mass formula from normal to hypernuclei". In S. Stoica; L. Trache; R.E. Tribble (eds.). Proceedings of the Carpathian Summer School of Physics 2005. World Scientific. p. 29. ISBN 978-981-270-007-0.
  4. ^ C. Samanta, P. Roy Chowdhury, D.N.Basu (2006). "Generalized mass formula for non-strange and hyper nuclei with SU(6) symmetry breaking". Journal of Physics G. 32 (3): 363-373. arXiv:nucl-th/0504085. Bibcode:2006JPhG...32..363S. doi:10.1088/0954-3899/32/3/010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ C. Samanta, P. Roy Chowdhury and D.N.Basu (2008). "Lambda hyperonic effect on the normal driplines". Journal of Physics G. 35 (6): 065101-065110. arXiv:0802.3172. Bibcode:2008JPhG...35f5101S. doi:10.1088/0954-3899/35/6/065101.
  6. ^ A.S. Botvina; J. Pochodzalla (2007). "Production of hypernuclei in multifragmentation of nuclear spectator matter". Physical Review C. 76 (2): 024909-024912. arXiv:0705.2968. Bibcode:2007PhRvC..76b4909B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.76.024909.
  7. ^ "Hall C Information". Jefferson Lab. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "Experimental Hall A". Jefferson Lab. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ Nakamura, Satoshi N (23 Aug 2005). "Introduction". Jefferson Lab. Retrieved 2019.

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