Nuclear "pasta" formation

A. S. Schneider, C. J. Horowitz, J. Hughto, D. K. Berry

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69 Scopus citations


The formation of complex nonuniform phases of nuclear matter, known as nuclear pasta, is studied with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations containing 51200 nucleons. A phenomenological nuclear interaction is used that reproduces the saturation binding energy and density of nuclear matter. Systems are prepared at an initial density of 0.10fm-3 and then the density is decreased by expanding the simulation volume at different rates to densities of 0.01fm-3 or less. An originally uniform system of nuclear matter is observed to form spherical bubbles ("swiss cheese"), hollow tubes, flat plates ("lasagna"), thin rods ("spaghetti") and, finally, nearly spherical nuclei with decreasing density. We explicitly observe nucleation mechanisms, with decreasing density, for these different pasta phase transitions. Topological quantities known as Minkowski functionals are obtained to characterize the pasta shapes. Different pasta shapes are observed depending on the expansion rate. This indicates nonequilibrium effects. We use this to determine the best ways to obtain lower energy states of the pasta system from MD simulations and to place constraints on the equilibration time of the system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065807
JournalPhysical Review C - Nuclear Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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