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Title: Approximating the r-Process on Earth with Thermonuclear Explosions. Lessons Learned and Unanswered Questions

During the astrophysical r-process, multiple neutron captures occur so rapidly on target nuclei that their daughter nuclei generally do not have time to undergo radioactive decay before another neutron is captured. The r-process can be approximately simulated on Earth in certain types of thermonuclear explosions through an analogous process of rapid neutron captures known as the "prompt capture" process. Between 1952 and 1969, 23 nuclear tests were fielded by the US which were involved (at least partially) with the "prompt capture" process. Of these tests, 15 were at least partially successful. Some of these tests were conducted under the Plowshare Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Program as scientific research experiments. It is now known that the USSR conducted similar nuclear tests during 1966 to 1979. The elements einsteinium and fermium were first discovered by this process. The most successful tests achieved 19 successive neutron captures on the initial target nuclei. A review of the US program, target nuclei used, heavy element yields, scientific achievements of the program, and how some of the results have been used by the astrophysical community is given. Finally, some unanswered questions concerning very neutron-rich nuclei that could potentially have been answered with additional nuclear experiments is presented.
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1237274
Report Number(s):
LA-UR--16-20452
TRN: US1600301
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; 79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; THERMONUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS; NEUTRON REACTIONS; R PROCESS; NEUTRON-RICH ISOTOPES; CAPTURE; HEAVY NUCLEI; SIMULATION; YIELDS r-process