Recent progress in the understanding of the r-process

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Abstract

A brief overview of the r-process is given with an emphasis on the observational implications for this process. The conditions required for the major production of the heavy r-process elements (r-elements) with mass numbersA > 130 are discussed based on a generic astrophysical model where matter adiabatically expands from a hot and dense initial state. Nucleosynthesis in the neutrino-driven winds from nascent neutron stars is discussed as a specific example. Such winds readily produce the elements from Sr to Ag withA ∼ 88-110 through charged-particle reactions in the α-process but appear incapable of making the heavy r-elements. Observations of elemental abundances in metal-poor stars have provided many valuable insights into the r-process. They have demonstrated that the production of the heavy r-elements must be associated with massive stars evolving on short timescales, provided evidence strongly favoring core-collapse supernovae over neutron star mergers as the major source for these elements, and shown that this source cannot produce any significant amount of the low - A elements from Na to Ge including Fe. A self-consistent astrophysical model of the r-process remains to be developed, and it appears well worthwhile to carry out more comprehensive studies on the evolution and explosion of the massive stars of ∼ 8-11M that undergo O-Ne-Mg core collapse and produce a very insignificant amount of the low - A elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of Science
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Event10th Symposium on Nuclei in the Cosmos, NIC 2008 - Mackinac Island, MI, United States
Duration: Jul 27 2008Aug 1 2008

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