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Observation of a correlated free four-neutron system
Nature  (IF69.504),  Pub Date : 2022-06-22, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04827-6
M. Duer, T. Aumann, R. Gernhäuser, V. Panin, S. Paschalis, D. M. Rossi, N. L. Achouri, D. Ahn, H. Baba, C. A. Bertulani, M. Böhmer, K. Boretzky, C. Caesar, N. Chiga, A. Corsi, D. Cortina-Gil, C. A. Douma, F. Dufter, Z. Elekes, J. Feng, B. Fernández-Domínguez, U. Forsberg, N. Fukuda, I. Gasparic, Z. Ge, J. M. Gheller, J. Gibelin, A. Gillibert, K. I. Hahn, Z. Halász, M. N. Harakeh, A. Hirayama, M. Holl, N. Inabe, T. Isobe, J. Kahlbow, N. Kalantar-Nayestanaki, D. Kim, S. Kim, T. Kobayashi, Y. Kondo, D. Körper, P. Koseoglou, Y. Kubota, I. Kuti, P. J. Li, C. Lehr, S. Lindberg, Y. Liu, F. M. Marqués, S. Masuoka, M. Matsumoto, J. Mayer, K. Miki, B. Monteagudo, T. Nakamura, T. Nilsson, A. Obertelli, N. A. Orr, H. Otsu, S. Y. Park, M. Parlog, P. M. Potlog, S. Reichert, A. Revel, A. T. Saito, M. Sasano, H. Scheit, F. Schindler, S. Shimoura, H. Simon, L. Stuhl, H. Suzuki, D. Symochko, H. Takeda, J. Tanaka, Y. Togano, T. Tomai, H. T. Törnqvist, J. Tscheuschner, T. Uesaka, V. Wagner, H. Yamada, B. Yang, L. Yang, Z. H. Yang, M. Yasuda, K. Yoneda, L. Zanetti, J. Zenihiro, M. V. Zhukov

A long-standing question in nuclear physics is whether chargeless nuclear systems can exist. To our knowledge, only neutron stars represent near-pure neutron systems, where neutrons are squeezed together by the gravitational force to very high densities. The experimental search for isolated multi-neutron systems has been an ongoing quest for several decades1, with a particular focus on the four-neutron system called the tetraneutron, resulting in only a few indications of its existence so far2,3,4, leaving the tetraneutron an elusive nuclear system for six decades. Here we report on the observation of a resonance-like structure near threshold in the four-neutron system that is consistent with a quasi-bound tetraneutron state existing for a very short time. The measured energy and width of this state provide a key benchmark for our understanding of the nuclear force. The use of an experimental approach based on a knockout reaction at large momentum transfer with a radioactive high-energy 8He beam was key.