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Earth’s Heaviest Atom Measured And Found Stranger Things Than Expected

Oganesson (Og) is the heaviest element in the periodic table, but its properties have been difficult to find since 2002, when its first synthesis was made. Now, computer simulation has filled in some gaps, and even more strange features of the element have emerged.

At the atomic level, the oganesson element behaves significantly differently than the lighter ones-with this we can get basic thoughts about how these super-heavy elements work.

According to simulations created by international scientists, oganesson’s electrons, protons and neutrons do not follow the rules in the group of inert gases, including this element. This, in turn, has a big impact on how we understand this part of the periodic table.

Electronic structures of xenon (upper), radon (middle) and oganesson (lower) atoms. (P. Jerabek et al & APS/Alan Stonebraker)

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“These super-heavy elements represent the limit of core mass and charge,” says Witek Nazarewicz of Michigan State University, one of the researchers who conducted the study. ”These are located in remote corners of an unknown nuclear zone.”

”Questions about super-heavy systems are at the forefront of nuclear and atomic physics and chemical research.”

In the light elements of the family of inert gases in which oganesson is located, according to the Bohr model of the atom, electrons take certain orbits or positions around the nucleus and form shell-like groups around the center. Calculations such as Fermion’s placement functions are made to find out where these electron shells are, but with the large electrostatic forces created by the oganesson atom, special relativity rules come into play.

Keeping this in mind, the researchers used an adapted version of fermion placement functions, known as electron placement functions, to calculate where electrons are in oganesson. And what they found was that the electron shells were almost inseparable from each other, and an electron gas was formed around the nucleus.

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In other words, at the most fundamental level it was not at all like in a prime gas such as xenon or neon.

One of the study’s stakeholders, Peter Schwerdtfeger, who works at Massey University in New Zealand, said: “We thought that on paper we would find some rare gas structure like other members of this family.”

“According to our calculations, the oganesson shell more or less loses its structure and an electron cloud is formed”.

The special gas cloud structure also applies to neutrons inside the super-heavy nucleus, while the protons, according to the researchers ‘ calculations, appear to have preserved some kind of shell-like structure.

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What we’re talking about here is nothing more than deep quantum physics, but what it means is that the oganesson element is quite different from the other elements in the group. The Nebula structure formed by its electrons means that this element will be much more reactive than its other group mates.

Another conclusion says that the oganesson atoms will be a solid at room temperature and will not collide with each other as in a gas.

Keep in mind that these are computer simulations, although these are very complex calculations, not oganesson’s studies. The element is very difficult to produce and decays too quickly to be studied by normal means.

Now that we have some predictions about the structure and properties of element 118, scientists can experiment and test these hypotheses. This is the next phase of the investigation.

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Recently, these views could help produce an oganesson atom, which can be stable for more than a millisecond .

“The only way to predict oganesson’s behavior with the tools we have now is to make calculations, and we have made quite a few interesting findings,” says Schwerdtfeger.

The study was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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