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Of primary interest for the detection of strangelets is their stability. For astronomical production of strange matter, it is necessary that it be quite stable. For production and detection in accelerator experiments, strangelets need not be absolutely stable, but the design of the experiment will depend greatly on their lifetimes and decay modes. Since in practice we are most likely to produce or detect small strangelets, I will concentrate here on their stability. I will proceed systematically through each potential decay mode, and estimate its relevance.

While specific predictions of lifetimes are not possible at this level, it is possible to obtain a qualitative understanding. For each decay mode the boundaries for stability can be found. By overlapping the decay boundaries it is possible to identify regions of stability. The decay modes may be divided into two categories: baryon number changing decays at constant charge, and baryon number conserving decays.

The general decay space is three dimensional, the axes being baryon number (A), charge (Z), and strangeness (S). The leading baryon emission decay will proceed much more quickly than the baryon conserving decays. The different time scales for A changing and conserving processes allows us to look at these independently. First we can trace the decay in a slice taken through the decay space in the (A,S) plane. Once stability is reached with respect to baryon number, we can trace the decay in the (Z,S) plane to stability or quasi-stability.

Joshua Holden
Sun May 17 15:37:00 EDT 1998