Jirina Stone

Jirina Stone

Neutron stars and gravitational waves in the context of modern nuclear physics theory

Since the discovery of the atomic nucleus more than hundred years ago, the enigma of the force which holds the nucleus together remains unsolved.

We are familiar with the utilization of nuclear phenomena in energy generation, industry, medicine and, unfortunately, in warfare. In academic research, the theory of nuclear forces evolved, starting from original ideas in 1930, to a large variety of empirical models, lacking fundamental insight.

Increasing sophistication of data from terrestrial experiments, augmented by advanced astrophysical observations, including the discovery of gravitational waves, provides ever broadening evidence upon which any breakthrough in the quest for solving the nuclear force puzzle must be based.

Yet today, despite novel mathematical techniques and computer power unimaginable a few decades ago, a plethora of models exist, dependent on a large number of variable correlated parameters which cannot be uniquely determined by the data.

In this talk I will concentrate on only one source of observational constraints on the nuclear force models, neutron stars. These densest objects in the Universe form an extremely rich laboratory for testing nuclear theories, encompassing a wide range of density, pressure and temperature, and containing an extensive spectrum of particles, possibly including quarks.

I will outline basic ideas of the most modern nuclear theories, such as the Quark-Meson-Coupling model, one of the most promising current approaches to the nuclear force problem. The crucial role played by binary neutron star collisions, and hence the nuclear force, in the interpretation of gravitational waves will also be illustrated.

Short biography

Jirina Stone was born in Czechoslovakia. She obtained bachelor degree at the Technical University (CVUT) and PhD at the Charles University in Prague, both with the main subject of low-energy nuclear physics.

She got a teaching position at CVUT and carried out her research in experimental nuclear physics with focus on nuclear spectroscopy and reactions, as a visiting staff member in the Institute for Nuclear Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Rez near Prague (1963-1975) and in the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, USSR (1975-1983). She became an associate Professor of Physics at CVUT (1978-1984).

She moved to England in 1984 and started her work on low-temperature nuclear orientation, nuclear magnetism and hyperfine interactions, first in Oxford and later, using cooling apparatus connected to accelerators and reactors, at Daresbury Laboratory (UK), CERN ISOLDE (Geneva) and Studsvik (Sweden). She obtained MA status and became SERC Research Associate (1984-1986), SERC Research Fellow (1986-1991) and College Lecturer (1992-2005). Since 2005, she has become a long-term academic visitor in the Department of Physics in Oxford (in the sub-department of Astrophysics, since 2018).

She also extended her presence in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA, and became a long-term visitor to the Physics Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (2006-2021). In 2008, she was invited to become an Adjunct Professor of Physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

She also held other positions in different institutions, such as Visiting Professor of Chemistry at the University of Maryland, USA (1993-2018), Visiting Professor of Physics, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil (2010), Visiting Scientist at RIKEN, Japan (2016-2020) and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Adelaide, Australia (2018-2019).

In the late nineties, she extended her interest beyond experiment to nuclear theory and started to work on theoretical nuclear models, first of finite nuclei, but soon after also of high-density matter in astronomical objects, namely neutron stars, supernovae, and heavy ion collisions, because she recognized the inevitable close connection between the three areas of low-energy nuclear theory.

In the future, she plans to continue in using multimessenger astrophysical data and data from most advanced nuclear and particle experiments in the quest for a fundamental understanding of the nuclear force. She believes that this problem, which has been with us since the atomic nucleus was discovered, is still waiting for an answer.


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