Current experimental techniques do not allow to go so far to the neutron-rich side close to the island of stability.the observation of gravitational waves as well as electromagnetic waves originating from a neutron star merger has been published on october 16, 2017 and is a first proof of the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in the r-process
. It still remains an open question if superheavy nuclei have been formed in our universe.
The observation settles a riddle that has puzzled scientists for more than 60 years: where do gold, platinum, uranium, and other heavy elements, known as r-process
elements, come from?
Fowler, but heavier elements required a different thermonuclear chemistry called r-process
and lots of free neutrons floating around.
The researchers hope that they might be able to detect the imploding neutron stars as kilonovae, or explosions much dimmer than supernovae that could hint to this so-called r-process
Many of the universe's heaviest elements form primarily through the r-process
, a chain of reactions through which atomic nuclei climb the periodic table, swallowing up neutrons and decaying radioactively.
For 50 years, astronomers and nuclear physicists have modeled this rapid process, named the r-process
, in order to unravel the cosmic history of the elements.
There's no time for stabilizing beta decays during this rapid neutron capture, or r-process
. Only later, after the neutron flood subsides and the material spreads out a bit, will very heavy, unstable atoms have the opportunity to decay into stable isotopes.
Poster topics include the magnesium abundance in 52 B stars, an infrared survey of neutron capture elements in planetary nebulae, new r-process
enhanced stars found in the HK-II survey, and the origin of sulfur.
To do this, new spectral synthesis methods need to be developed considering the necessary microphysical (ejecta chemistry, r-process
physics, time-dependent gas state) and macrophysical (3d radiation transport) processes to obtain sufficient accuracy.
Astronomers believe most of these "r-process
elements"-elements much heavier than iron-were created, either in the aftermath of the collapse of massive stars and the associated supernova explosions, or in the merging of binary neutron star systems.
Both elements arise in the r-process
, which occurs in supernovae and neutron-star mergers when neutrons bombard nuclei rapidly to create small quantities of heavy elements.
The prize, which is given jointly by the IOP and the Italian Physical Society (SIF), is awarded to Professor Pian for her first detection, with the ESO Very Large Telescope equipped with the X-shooter spectrograph, of r-process
nucleosynthesis in the optical/infrared counterpart of a gravitational radiation signal due to a binary neutron star merger.