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Title: PRODUCTION OF ALL THE r-PROCESS NUCLIDES IN THE DYNAMICAL EJECTA OF NEUTRON STAR MERGERS

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that binary neutron star (NS-NS) mergers robustly produce heavy r-process nuclei above the atomic mass number A ∼ 130 because their ejecta consist of almost pure neutrons (electron fraction of Y {sub e} < 0.1). However, the production of a small amount of the lighter r-process nuclei (A ≈ 90-120) conflicts with the spectroscopic results of r-process-enhanced Galactic halo stars. We present, for the first time, the result of nucleosynthesis calculations based on the fully general relativistic simulation of a NS-NS merger with approximate neutrino transport. It is found that the bulk of the dynamical ejecta are appreciably shock-heated and neutrino processed, resulting in a wide range of Y {sub e} (≈0.09-0.45). The mass-averaged abundance distribution of calculated nucleosynthesis yields is in reasonable agreement with the full-mass range (A ≈ 90-240) of the solar r-process curve. This implies, if our model is representative of such events, that the dynamical ejecta of NS-NS mergers could be the origin of the Galactic r-process nuclei. Our result also shows that radioactive heating after ∼1 day from the merging, which gives rise to r-process-powered transient emission, is dominated by the β-decays of several species close to stability with precisely measured half-lives.more » This implies that the total radioactive heating rate for such an event can be well constrained within about a factor of two if the ejected material has a solar-like r-process pattern.« less

Authors:
 [1]; ; ;  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. iTHES Research Group, RIKEN, Wako, Saitama 351-0198 (Japan)
  2. Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502 (Japan)
  3. Astrophysics, EPSAM, Keele University, Keele ST5 5BG (United Kingdom)
  4. Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365641
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 789; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; APPROXIMATIONS; BINARY STARS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; DIAGRAMS; ELECTRONS; HEATING RATE; MILKY WAY; NEUTRINOS; NEUTRON STARS; NEUTRONS; NUCLEOSYNTHESIS; R PROCESS; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; TRANSIENTS

Citation Formats

Wanajo, Shinya, Sekiguchi, Yuichiro, Kiuchi, Kenta, Shibata, Masaru, Nishimura, Nobuya, and Kyutoku, Koutarou, E-mail: shinya.wanajo@riken.jp. PRODUCTION OF ALL THE r-PROCESS NUCLIDES IN THE DYNAMICAL EJECTA OF NEUTRON STAR MERGERS. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/789/2/L39.
Wanajo, Shinya, Sekiguchi, Yuichiro, Kiuchi, Kenta, Shibata, Masaru, Nishimura, Nobuya, & Kyutoku, Koutarou, E-mail: shinya.wanajo@riken.jp. PRODUCTION OF ALL THE r-PROCESS NUCLIDES IN THE DYNAMICAL EJECTA OF NEUTRON STAR MERGERS. United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/789/2/L39.
Wanajo, Shinya, Sekiguchi, Yuichiro, Kiuchi, Kenta, Shibata, Masaru, Nishimura, Nobuya, and Kyutoku, Koutarou, E-mail: shinya.wanajo@riken.jp. Thu . "PRODUCTION OF ALL THE r-PROCESS NUCLIDES IN THE DYNAMICAL EJECTA OF NEUTRON STAR MERGERS". United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/789/2/L39.
@article{osti_22365641,
title = {PRODUCTION OF ALL THE r-PROCESS NUCLIDES IN THE DYNAMICAL EJECTA OF NEUTRON STAR MERGERS},
author = {Wanajo, Shinya and Sekiguchi, Yuichiro and Kiuchi, Kenta and Shibata, Masaru and Nishimura, Nobuya and Kyutoku, Koutarou, E-mail: shinya.wanajo@riken.jp},
abstractNote = {Recent studies suggest that binary neutron star (NS-NS) mergers robustly produce heavy r-process nuclei above the atomic mass number A ∼ 130 because their ejecta consist of almost pure neutrons (electron fraction of Y {sub e} < 0.1). However, the production of a small amount of the lighter r-process nuclei (A ≈ 90-120) conflicts with the spectroscopic results of r-process-enhanced Galactic halo stars. We present, for the first time, the result of nucleosynthesis calculations based on the fully general relativistic simulation of a NS-NS merger with approximate neutrino transport. It is found that the bulk of the dynamical ejecta are appreciably shock-heated and neutrino processed, resulting in a wide range of Y {sub e} (≈0.09-0.45). The mass-averaged abundance distribution of calculated nucleosynthesis yields is in reasonable agreement with the full-mass range (A ≈ 90-240) of the solar r-process curve. This implies, if our model is representative of such events, that the dynamical ejecta of NS-NS mergers could be the origin of the Galactic r-process nuclei. Our result also shows that radioactive heating after ∼1 day from the merging, which gives rise to r-process-powered transient emission, is dominated by the β-decays of several species close to stability with precisely measured half-lives. This implies that the total radioactive heating rate for such an event can be well constrained within about a factor of two if the ejected material has a solar-like r-process pattern.},
doi = {10.1088/2041-8205/789/2/L39},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
number = 2,
volume = 789,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jul 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Thu Jul 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}
  • Material ejected during (or immediately following) the merger of two neutron stars may assemble into heavy elements through the r-process. The subsequent radioactive decay of the nuclei can power transient electromagnetic emission similar to, but significantly dimmer than, an ordinary supernova. Identifying such events is an important goal of future optical surveys, offering new perspectives on the origin of r-process nuclei and the astrophysical sources of gravitational waves. Predictions of the transient light curves and spectra, however, have suffered from the uncertain optical properties of heavy ions. Here we argue that the opacity of an expanding r-process material is dominatedmore » by bound-bound transitions from those ions with the most complex valence electron structure, namely the lanthanides. For a few representative ions, we run atomic structure models to calculate the radiative transition rates for tens of millions of lines. The resulting r-process opacities are orders of magnitude larger than that of ordinary (e.g., iron-rich) supernova ejecta. Radiative transport calculations using these new opacities suggest that the light curves should be longer, dimmer, and redder than previously thought. The spectra appear to be pseudo-blackbody, with broad absorption features, and peak in the infrared ({approx}1 {mu}m). We discuss uncertainties in the opacities and attempt to quantify their impact on the spectral predictions. The results have important implications for observational strategies to find and study the radioactively powered electromagnetic counterparts to neutron star mergers.« 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
  • We consider hot accretion disk outflows from black hole-neutron star mergers in the context of the nucleosynthesis they produce. We begin with a three-dimensional numerical model of a black hole-neutron star merger and calculate the neutrino and antineutrino fluxes emitted from the resulting accretion disk. We then follow the element synthesis in material outflowing the disk along parameterized trajectories. We find that at least a weak r-process is produced, and in some cases a main r-process as well. The neutron-rich conditions required for this production of r-process nuclei stem directly from the interactions of the neutrinos emitted by the diskmore » with the free neutrons and protons in the outflow.« less
  • We consider hot accretion disk outflows from black hole-neutron star mergers in the context of the nucleosynthesis they produce. We begin with a three-dimensional numerical model of a black hole-neutron star merger and calculate the neutrino and antineutrino fluxes emitted from the resulting accretion disk. We then follow the element synthesis in material outflowing the disk along parameterized trajectories. We find that at least a weak r-process is produced, and in some cases a main r-process as well. The neutron-rich conditions required for this production of r-process nuclei stem directly from the interactions of the neutrinos emitted by the diskmore » with the free neutrons and protons in the outflow.« less
  • Although the rapid neutron-capture process, or r-process, is fundamentally important for explaining the origin of approximately half of the stable nuclei with A > 60, the astrophysical site of this process has not been identified yet. Here we study r-process nucleosynthesis in material that is dynamically ejected by tidal and pressure forces during the merging of binary neutron stars (NSs) and within milliseconds afterward. For the first time we make use of relativistic hydrodynamical simulations of such events, defining consistently the conditions that determine the nucleosynthesis, i.e., neutron enrichment, entropy, early density evolution and thus expansion timescale, and ejecta mass.more » We find that 10{sup -3}-10{sup -2} M{sub sun} are ejected, which is enough for mergers to be the main source of heavy (A {approx}> 140) galactic r-nuclei for merger rates of some 10{sup -5} yr{sup -1}. While asymmetric mergers eject 2-3 times more mass than symmetric ones, the exact amount depends weakly on whether the NSs have radii of {approx}15 km for a 'stiff' nuclear equation of state (EOS) or {approx}12 km for a 'soft' EOS. r-process nucleosynthesis during the decompression becomes largely insensitive to the detailed conditions because of efficient fission recycling, producing a composition that closely follows the solar r-abundance distribution for nuclei with mass numbers A > 140. Estimating the light curve powered by the radioactive decay heating of r-process nuclei with an approximative model, we expect high emission in the B-V-R bands for 1-2 days with potentially observable longer duration in the case of asymmetric mergers because of the larger ejecta mass.« less