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The microphysics of heavy element origins - Rebecca Surman (Notre Dame U.)


Abstract: The groundbreaking discovery of the neutron star merger event GW170817 ushered in a new era of multimessenger astrophysics. One key observation was the optical signal that accompanied GW170817, which provided the first firm proof that neutron star mergers produce heavy elements. Still, it is not known exactly which elements are produced by mergers and in what proportions. Are neutron star mergers the sole astrophysical source of the heaviest elements or do other extreme events contribute? A full understanding of neutron star mergers and their role in galactic chemical evolution requires progress in a number of areas including microphysics such as neutrino and nuclear physics. Here we discuss how uncertainties in nuclear and neutrino physics influence predictions of nucleosynthesis observables. We then explore the promise of experimental campaigns at rare isotope beam facilities to both reduce these uncertainties and provide insight into astrophysical environments of heavy element production.


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