|Name, symbol||Iron-56, 56Fe|
|Isotope mass||55.9349375(7) u|
|Excess energy||−60,601.003±1.354 keV|
|Binding energy||492,253.892±1.356 keV|
Nickel-62, a relatively rare isotope of nickel, has a higher binding energy per nucleon; this is consistent with having a higher mass per nucleon because nickel-62 has a greater proportion of neutrons, which are slightly more massive than protons.
Thus, light elements undergoing nuclear fusion and heavy elements undergoing nuclear fission release energy as their nucleons bind more tightly, and the resulting nuclei approach the maximum total energy per nucleon, which occurs at 62Ni. However, during nucleosynthesis in stars the competition between photodisintegration and alpha capturing causes more 56Ni to be produced than 62Ni (56Fe is produced later in the star's ejection shell as 56Ni decays). This means that as the Universe ages, more matter is converted into extremely tightly bound nuclei, such as 56Fe. This progression of matter towards iron and nickel is one of the phenomena responsible for the heat death of the universe.
Production of these elements has decreased considerably from what it was at the beginning of the stelliferous era; in all likelihood, not all matter will be converted into such elements.
|iron-56 is an
isotope of iron
|Decay product of:
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