Plutonium-244: Confirmation as an Extinct Radioactivity

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Science  21 May 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3985, pp. 837-840
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3985.837


The mass spectrum of xenon from spontaneous fission in a laboratory sample of plutonium-244 is precisely what meteoriticists predicted it would be; this discovery completes a web of proof that this nuclide is a bona fide extinct radioactivity of galactic origin, that r-process nucleosynthesis was ongoing in the galaxy at the time of the birth of the sun, and that the early meteoritic abundances of plutonium-244, heretofore tentative, can be utilized with confidence in models for the chronology of galactic nucleosynthesis. The search for an explanation for anomalous fission-like xenon in carbonaceous chondrites can now be narrowed.