Abstract. Starting from the Feshbach S-matrix pole expansion we modify the standard statistical model for compound reactions by introducing correlations between fluctuating S-matrix elements with different J (total spin) and π (parity) values. The S-matrix (J, π)-correlations are obtained at the expense of introducing infinitesimally small entrance-exit channel off-diagonal (J, π)-correlations between the random variables of the statistical model. Although later on these correlations are switched off by means of a properly applied limiting procedure, the S-matrix (J, π)-correlations do not vanish and can be strong. The physical origin of the S-matrix (J, π)-correlations resembles the effect of spontaneous symmetry breaking while S-matrix (J, π)-decoherence is due to quantum chaos. Novel reaction mechanism results in the excitation of peculiar nuclear states: The intermediate system is thermalized so that the shape of the spectrum is angle-independent and Maxwellian with angle-independent slope, yet the intermediate nucleus is not equilibrated since the angular distribution is forward-peaked, i.e., memory of the direction of the initial beam is not lost. The existence of thermalized-nonequilibrated nuclear states is supported by data on the 50–100 % forward peaking of neutrons in the typically evaporation (1–3.5 MeV) part of the spectrum observed in the 93 Nb(n, n ′ ) scattering with En = 7 MeV. PACS: 24.10.Cn; 24.60.Dr
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