Scientists have found that the pressure inside a proton is actually far greater than they ever imagined.
An extraordinary new study has found that pressure within a proton is 10 times stronger than that of a super-dense neutron star. It is the first ever measurement of the mechanical property of protons, which are subatomic particles that are fundamental to the universe.
Physicists had long suspected that protons were under extraordinary pressure, but this finding exceeded even their expectations. The measurements took place at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia, which is owned by the Department of Energy.
The findings shed light on quarks, which are the basic beams of protons. The pressure binds three quarks, which form a proton. These results shed light on how the strong forces within protons are distributed, and is potentially a big step forward in the field of physics that could help us understand some of the most fundamental aspects of the universe, particularly in the area of nuclear and particle physics.
“We found an extremely high outward-directed pressure from the center of the proton, and a much lower and more extended inward-directed pressure near the proton’s periphery,” explains Volker Burkert, Jefferson Lab Hall B Leader and a co-author on the paper.
“Our results also shed light on the distribution of the strong force inside the proton,” he said. “We are providing a way of visualizing the magnitude and distribution of the strong force inside the proton. This opens up an entirely new direction in nuclear and particle physics that can be explored in the future.”