Astrophysical Alchemy

Prof. Rebecca Surman

Tuesday January 19th 2016 - 7:00 pm

101 Jordan Hall of Science

While the origins of the light (hydrogen, helium) and intermediate mass (carbon through iron) elements found in our bodies and in our solar system are well understood, the elements heavier than iron present an intriguing mystery. We can tell from the solar system abundances of heavy elements that they were made in hot environments with lots of free neutrons. These conditions are quite strange, however, and where they can be found in the galaxy is still uncertain. Here we will discuss the candidate sites — some of which are within the galaxy’s most violent events: the deaths of massive stars in supernova explosions, and the collisions of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole —and explain how Notre Dame nuclear physicists and astrophysicists are working to resolve this longstanding mystery.

Show in the Digital Visualizations Theater


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