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Nucleosynthesis in massive rotating stars

Frischknecht, Urs Stefan. Nucleosynthesis in massive rotating stars. 2012, PhD Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_10088

Abstract

Most stars we see in the sky produce the energy they radiate away by central fusion. Most
of them are fusing hydrogen to helium. After a star has exhausted hydrogen in its centre it
contracts and can eventually start the fusion of helium to carbon. Massive stars are dened as
stars with at least eight times the mass of the Sun, which is the critical mass for a star needed
to start the carbon fusion after central helium has been exhausted. After three further fusion
phases an iron core is formed and no further energy can be gained. When this core reaches a
critical mass, the Chandrasekhar mass, it collapses and many of them explode in a Supernova,
a stellar explosion, which is one of the most energetic events known in the universe. During
such an explosion parts of the newly synthesised chemical elements are ejected and leads to
an enrichment of heavy elements in the interstellar gas from which later generations of stars
are formed. Massive stars are important for the formation and structure of the observed
universe as well as for its chemical enrichment. They are therefore also fundamental physical
constituents of our solar system and of life on earth.
Massive stars have surface temperatures higher than 100000 K and are over ten-thousand
times more luminous than the Sun, but their life is much shorter. The way how massive stars
evolve, depends mainly on three dierent parameters, namely their initial mass, composition
and rotation rate. It was shown by the research in the past 50 years of modelling massive
stars, that rotation can strongly aect the way how massive stars evolve. Not only their
fate can be changed by rotation eects, but also the chemical signature in the Supernova
and wind ejecta. Still, the transport of matter and angular momentum, an essential part of
physics inside rotating stars, is not yet fully understood.
In this project, I worked, on the one hand, on constraining the rotation induced mixing
by looking at the surface evolution of the light element boron. On the other hand, I focussed
in the main part of my work on the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements beyond iron by neutron
captures during the helium and carbon burning phases in massive stars, the so-called slow
neutron capture process or s process. An interesting and not yet fully studied question is,
how stellar rotation may aect the s process.
In this work, the Geneva stellar evolution code (GenEC) and the Basel nuclear reaction
network (BasNet) have been combined. It was found that the combination of meridional
circulations toghether with shear mixing can well explain the depletion of boron at the surface
of massive stars in the vicinity of the Sun. With a grid of massive star models including the
eects of rotation, it was found that rotation induced mixing can enhance the production of
nuclei by the s process strongly. This might be a solution for some yet unexplained features
in the chemical pattern of very old stars in the Milky Way.
Advisors:Thielemann, Friedrich-Karl
Committee Members:Hirschi, Raphael and Meynet, -
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Physik > Physik > Theoretische Physik Astrophysik (Thielemann)
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis no:10088
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Number of Pages:165 S.
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:30 Jun 2016 10:50
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 15:15

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