Asteroids can exhibit immense density. Such is their density, that they might house heavy elements not listed in our periodic table, as per recent research on their mass density.
Physicists from The University of Arizona were driven by the potential existence of Compact Ultradense Objects (CUDOs) possessing a mass density surpassing that of Osmium, which holds the title of being the most dense and stable element with its 76 protons.
This group explored the characteristics of possible elements having atomic numbers (Z) surpassing the highest number present in our known periodic table. While Osmium stands as the most dense stable element, elements exceeding its atomic number have been artificially created.
Oganesson, which was crafted in 2002 by fusing californium-249 and calcium-48 atoms, boasts an atomic number of 118, making it the heaviest in our periodic table.
As we move to the table’s upper limits, elements typically become more unstable, exhibit radioactivity, and possess significantly reduced half-lives. Scientists have theoretically represented elements outside the known periodic table, postulating their characteristics.
Using the relativistic Thomas-Fermi atomic model, the Arizona group aimed to gauge the mass density of elements 110 Z and beyond.
When considering elements currently in the periodic table, they didn’t pinpoint any possessing the required mass densities to account for observations of asteroid 33 Polyhymnia, even if they held enough stability to be contenders.
Although still in the early stages, this discovery captivates everyone, from casual physics enthusiasts to ambitious space-mining entrepreneurs.