The group SU(3) was introduced in nuclear physics by Elliott (Ell 58) as a simple scheme to understand rotational features in light nuclei. It is one of the few examples of an intermediate group in a chain which provides a reasonable classification scheme for many-particle states. As we shall see a little later, the nuclear eigenfunctions are not “pure” SU(3) states—in fact there is a strong admixture—and yet we observe features that are direct consequences of the symmetry. Since there is already an article by Harvey (Har 68) on the SU(3) symmetry, we shall not duplicate many of the calculational details given there. Rather we shall concentrate on describing the general features of the symmetry and discussing aspects of the model not included by Harvey (Har 68) in his article.
KeywordsAngular Momentum Orbital Angular Momentum Rotational Band Casimir Operator Infinitesimal Generator
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