Rochester Institute of Technology

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The Astrophysical Production of the Heaviest Elements 
  • Speaker:  Erika Holmbeck
  • Start Time: 
  • End Time: 
  • Location:  Zoom
  • Type: Lunch Talk

Heavy elements like silver, gold, and uranium can attribute at least some of their origin to nucleosynthesis by rapid neutron-capture (the r-process). The presence of these heavy elements in nature---found not only in the Solar System, but also in very old, chemically simple stars---is evidence that this r-process must occur astrophysically. In the dawn of multi-messenger astronomy, compact object mergers prove to be at least one promising host of the r-process, but it is unclear whether mergers are the dominant source of heavy elements in the Milky Way. Studying the nature and extent of heavy-element production by compact object mergers involves understanding the r-process all the way from the microscopic nuclear physics to the macroscopic astrophysics. In this talk, I will discuss the interplay between multi-messenger signals, nuclear physics, and stellar spectroscopy when it comes to uncovering the origin of the heaviest elements on the periodic table.