138-Lanthanum production in the Cosmos

Dr Vincent Kheswa, who was previously a student at iThemba LABS, has published a follow-up article on his PhD work which evolves around the production of 138-Lanthanum in the cosmos and which was a long standing puzzle of nuclear astrophysics. Dr Kheswa took a new approach to determine the 138-Lanthanum production through measurements of statistical gamma-ray decay and used these quantities to successfully determine the reaction rates. From these rates, Dr Kheswa was able to determine which process is responsible for the production of the very rare nucleus 138-Lanthanum. These results are truly ground-breaking, because for the first time these astrophysical reactions could be constrained experimentally. From those, the necessary astrophysical environments that are needed to exist during galactic events, such as a supernova or merging neutron stars, to produce 138-Lanthanum, could be explored. You can read more in the full paper: B V Kheswa et al., Phys Rev C 95, 045805 (2017).