skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Nuclear Physics Issues of r-Process Nucleosynthesis

Abstract

Nucleosynthesis theory predicts that about half of the chemical elements above iron are formed in explosive stellar scenarios by the r-process, i.e. a combination of rapid neutron captures, inverse photodisintegrations, and slower {beta}-decays, {beta}-delayed processes, as well as fission and possibly interactions with neutrinos. A correct modelling of this process, therefore, requires the knowledge of nuclear properties very far from stability and a detailed description of the astrophysical environments. With respect to nuclear data, after an initial period of measuring classical 'waiting-point' nuclei with magic neutron numbers, recent investigations have paid special attention to shape transitions and the erosion of classical shell gaps with possible occurrence of new magic numbers. The status of experimental and theoretical nuclear data on masses and {beta}-decay properties will be briefly reviewed, and consequences on the overall r-process matter flow up to the cosmochronometers 232Th and 238U will be discussed.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Institut fuer Kernchemie, Universitaet Mainz (Germany)
  2. (Germany)
  3. (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20798326
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 819; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: 12. international symposium on capture gamma-ray spectroscopy and related topics, Notre Dame, IN (United States), 4-9 Sep 2005; Other Information: DOI: 10.1063/1.2187893; (c) 2006 American Institute of Physics; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; BETA DECAY; CAPTURE; FISSION; MAGIC NUCLEI; NEUTRINOS; NEUTRON REACTIONS; NEUTRONS; NUCLEAR PROPERTIES; NUCLEOSYNTHESIS; PHOTONUCLEAR REACTIONS; R PROCESS; STABILITY; THORIUM 232; URANIUM 238

Citation Formats

Kratz, K.-L., HGF Virtual Institute for Nuclear Structure and Astrophysics, Mainz, and Institute for Structure and nuclear Astrophysics, University of Notre Dame. Nuclear Physics Issues of r-Process Nucleosynthesis. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1063/1.2187893.
Kratz, K.-L., HGF Virtual Institute for Nuclear Structure and Astrophysics, Mainz, & Institute for Structure and nuclear Astrophysics, University of Notre Dame. Nuclear Physics Issues of r-Process Nucleosynthesis. United States. doi:10.1063/1.2187893.
Kratz, K.-L., HGF Virtual Institute for Nuclear Structure and Astrophysics, Mainz, and Institute for Structure and nuclear Astrophysics, University of Notre Dame. Mon . "Nuclear Physics Issues of r-Process Nucleosynthesis". United States. doi:10.1063/1.2187893.
@article{osti_20798326,
title = {Nuclear Physics Issues of r-Process Nucleosynthesis},
author = {Kratz, K.-L. and HGF Virtual Institute for Nuclear Structure and Astrophysics, Mainz and Institute for Structure and nuclear Astrophysics, University of Notre Dame},
abstractNote = {Nucleosynthesis theory predicts that about half of the chemical elements above iron are formed in explosive stellar scenarios by the r-process, i.e. a combination of rapid neutron captures, inverse photodisintegrations, and slower {beta}-decays, {beta}-delayed processes, as well as fission and possibly interactions with neutrinos. A correct modelling of this process, therefore, requires the knowledge of nuclear properties very far from stability and a detailed description of the astrophysical environments. With respect to nuclear data, after an initial period of measuring classical 'waiting-point' nuclei with magic neutron numbers, recent investigations have paid special attention to shape transitions and the erosion of classical shell gaps with possible occurrence of new magic numbers. The status of experimental and theoretical nuclear data on masses and {beta}-decay properties will be briefly reviewed, and consequences on the overall r-process matter flow up to the cosmochronometers 232Th and 238U will be discussed.},
doi = {10.1063/1.2187893},
journal = {AIP Conference Proceedings},
number = 1,
volume = 819,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Mar 13 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Mon Mar 13 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}
  • The production of about half of the heavy elements in nature occurs via the r-process, i.e., a combination of rapid neutron captures, inverse photodisintegrations, and slower {beta}-decays, {beta}-delayed processes as well as fission and possibly interactions with neutrino fluxes. A correct understanding and modelling of this nucleosynthesis process requires the knowledge of nuclear properties far from stability and a detailed description of the astrophysical environments. Experiments at radioactive ion beam facilities have played a pioneering role in exploring the characteristics of nuclear structure in terms of masses and {beta}-decay properties. Initial examinations paid attention to short-lived ''waiting-point'' nuclei with magicmore » neutron numbers related to the location and height of the solar-system r-process abundance peaks, while more recent activities, mainly in the 132Sn region, focus on the evolution of shell effects as a function of isospin. In this context, shape transitions and the erosion of the classical shell gaps with possible occurrence of new magic numbers play an important role. Consequences of improved theoretical and experimental nuclear data on calculations of the r-process matter flow will be presented, and the applicability of the long-lived actinides 232Th and 238U as cosmo-chronometers will be discussed.« less
  • About half of the nuclei heavier than iron observed in nature are produced by the socalled rapid neutron capture process, or r-process, of nucleosynthesis. The identification of the astrophysics site and the specific conditions in which the r-process takes place remains, however, one of the still-unsolved mysteries of modern astrophysics. Another underlying difficulty associated with our understanding of the r-process concerns the uncertainties in the predictions of nuclear properties for the few thousands exotic neutron-rich nuclei involved and for which essentially no experimental data exist. The present contribution emphasizes some important future challenges faced by nuclear physics in this problem,more » particularly in the determination of the nuclear structure properties of exotic neutron-rich nuclei as well as their radiative neutron capture rates and their fission probabilities. These quantities are particularly relevant to determine the composition of the matter resulting from the r-process. Their impact on the r-abundance distribution resulting from the decompression of neutron star matter is discussed.« less
  • Binary neutron star mergers (NSMs) are expected to be main production sites of r-process elements. Their ejecta are extremely neutron-rich (Y{sub e}<0.1), and the r-process path proceeds along the neutron drip line and enters the region of fissile nuclei. In this situation, although superheavy nuclei may be synthesized and the r-process path may reach the island of stability, those are sensitive to theoretical models of nuclear masses and nuclear fission. In this study, we carry out r-process nucleosynthesis simulations in the NSMs. Our new nuclear reaction network code include new theoretical models of nuclear masses and nuclear fission. Our r-processmore » simulation of a binary NSM shows that the final r-process elemental abundances exhibit flat pattern for A∼110-160, and several fission cycling operate in extremely neutron-rich conditions of the NSM. We find that the combination of the NSMs and the magnetorotational supernovae can reproduce the solar r-process elements. We discuss the validity of this interpretation.« less
  • Here, when binary systems of neutron stars merge, a very small fraction of their rest mass is ejected, either dynamically or secularly. This material is neutron-rich and its nucleosynthesis provides the astrophysical site for the production of heavy elements in the Universe, together with a kilonova signal confirming neutron-star mergers as the origin of short gamma-ray bursts. We perform full general-relativistic simulations of binary neutron-star mergers employing three different nuclear-physics equations of state (EOSs), considering both equal- and unequal-mass configurations, and adopting a leakage scheme to account for neutrino radiative losses. Using a combination of techniques, we carry out anmore » extensive and systematic study of the hydrodynamical, thermodynamical, and geometrical properties of the matter ejected dynamically, employing the WinNet nuclear-reaction network to recover the relative abundances of heavy elements produced by each configurations. Among the results obtained, three are particularly important. First, we find that, within the sample considered here, both the properties of the dynamical ejecta and the nucleosynthesis yields are robust against variations of the EOS and masses. Second, using a conservative but robust criterion for unbound matter, we find that the amount of ejected mass is ≲10 –3 M⊙, hence at least one order of magnitude smaller than what normally assumed in modelling kilonova signals. Finally, using a simplified and gray-opacity model we assess the observability of the infrared kilonova emission finding, that for all binaries the luminosity peaks around ~1/2 day in the H-band, reaching a maximum magnitude of –13, and decreasing rapidly after one day.« less
    Cited by 5