r-Process Nucleosynthesis from Compact Binary Mergers

Perego, A. and Thielemann, F. -K. and Cescutti, G.. (2021) r-Process Nucleosynthesis from Compact Binary Mergers. In: Handbook of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Singapoore, pp. 1-56.

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The merger of two neutron stars or of a neutron star and a black hole often result in the ejection of a few percents of a solar mass of matter expanding at high speed in space. Being matter coming from the violent disruption of a neutron star, these ejecta are initially very dense, hot and extremely rich in neutrons. The few available protons form heavy nuclei ("seeds") that absorb the more abundant free neutrons, increasing their size. The neutron density is so high that a substantial number of neutron captures occur before the resulting unstable nuclei can decay toward more stable configurations, converting neutrons into protons. Depending mostly on the initial neutron richness, this mechanism leads to the formation of up to half of the heavy elements that we observe in nature and it is called rapid neutron capture process ("$r$-process"). The prediction of the precise composition of the ejecta requires a detailed knowledge of the properties of very exotic nuclei, that have never been produced in a laboratory. Despite having long been a speculative scenario, nowadays several observational evidences point to compact binary mergers as one of the major sites where heavy elements are formed in the Universe. The most striking one was the detection of a kilonova following the merger of a neutron star binary: the light emitted by this astronomical transient is indeed powered by the radioactive decay of freshly synthesized neutron-rich nuclei and testifies the actual nature of compact binary mergers as cosmic forges.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Physik > Former Organization Units Physics > Theoretische Physik Astrophysik (Thielemann)
UniBasel Contributors:Thielemann, Friedrich-Karl
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Further Contribution in a Book
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
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Last Modified:06 May 2022 11:44
Deposited On:12 Apr 2022 10:31

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