Saint Mary’s University and TRIUMF shine light on the Strong Nuclear Force

 Dr. Rituparna Kanungo, Department of Astronomy & Physics, and Amit Kumar, Master of Science alumnus, at TRIUMF.

Dr. Rituparna Kanungo, Department of Astronomy & Physics, and Amit Kumar, Master of Science alumnus, at TRIUMF.

Physicists are one step closer to understanding the mysteries of the strong nuclear force (the strongest force of nature) responsible for binding subatomic particles, thanks to Saint Mary’s researchers.

Astronomy and Physics professor Dr. Rituparna Kanungo and Saint Mary’s alumnus Amit Kumar, together with a team of Canadian and international researchers, have gained insight into the characteristics of the strong nuclear force through a highly-sensitive experiment conducted at ISAC Charged Particles Spectroscopy Station (IRIS).

IRIS is a Saint Mary’s University facility located at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver.

Otherwise simply known as the “strong force,” the strong nuclear force is perhaps the least understood of the four basic forces in nature; the others are gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak force. Responsible for binding together the fundamental particles of matter (quarks) to form larger particles (protons and neutrons), the strong force also holds the atomic nucleus.

The project, which synthesized a state-of-the-art radioactive ion beam experiment and ab initio theory, was led by Dr. Kanungo and Dr. Petr Navratil from the TRIUMF theory department. Amit Kumar, a graduate of Saint Mary’s Master of Science in Applied Science, contributed greatly to the research at TRIUMF’s IRIS facility, as did TRIUMF postdoctoral fellow Angelo Calci.

The research work is published in Physical Review Letters highlighted as Editor’s Suggestion and discussed in APS Physics Viewpoint.

The team would like to gratefully acknowledge research support from NSERC, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust. TRIUMF receives funding via a contribution through the National Research Council of Canada.