skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on July 1, 2023

Title: Origin of Plutonium-244 in the Early Solar System
We investigate the origin in the early Solar System of the short-lived radionuclide 244Pu (with a half life of 80 Myr) produced by the rapid (r) neutron-capture process. We consider two large sets of r-process nucleosynthesis models and analyse if the origin of 244Pu in the ESS is consistent with that of the other r and slow (s) neutron-capture process radioactive nuclei. Uncertainties on the r-process models come from both the nuclear physics input and the astrophysical site. The former strongly affects the ratios of isotopes of close mass (129I/127I, 244Pu/238U, and 247Pu/235U). The 129I/247Cm ratio, instead, which involves isotopes of a very different mass, is much more variable than those listed above and is more affected by the physics of the astrophysical site. We consider possible scenarios for the evolution of the abundances of these radioactive nuclei in the galactic interstellar medium and verify under which scenarios and conditions solutions can be found for the origin of 244Pu that are consistent with the origin of the other isotopes. Solutions are generally found for all the possible different regimes controlled by the interval (δ) between additions from the source to the parcel of interstellar medium gas that ended up in more » the Solar System, relative to decay timescales. If r-process ejecta in interstellar medium are mixed within a relatively small area (leading to a long δ), we derive that the last event that explains the 129I and 247Cm abundances in the early Solar System can also account for the abundance of 244Pu. Due to its longer half life, however, 244Pu may have originated from a few events instead of one only. If r-process ejecta in interstellar medium are mixed within a relatively large area (leading to a short δ), we derive that the time elapsed from the formation of the molecular cloud to the formation of the Sun was 9-16 Myr. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1927130
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10358353
Journal Name:
Universe
Volume:
8
Issue:
7
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
343
ISSN:
2218-1997
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The composition of the early Solar System can be inferred from meteorites. Many elements heavier than iron were formed by the rapid neutron capture process (r-process), but the astrophysical sources where this occurred remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that the near-identical half-lives ( ≃ 15.6  million years ) of the radioactive r-process nuclei iodine-129 and curium-247 preserve their ratio, irrespective of the time between production and incorporation into the Solar System. We constrain the last r-process source by comparing the measured meteoritic ratio 129 I/ 247 Cm = 438 ± 184 with nucleosynthesis calculations based on neutron star merger and magneto-rotational supernova simulations. Moderately neutron-rich conditions, often found in merger disk ejecta simulations, are most consistent with the meteoritic value. Uncertain nuclear physics data limit our confidence in this conclusion.
  2. Abstract The astrophysical sites where r -process elements are synthesized remain mysterious: it is clear that neutron star mergers (kilonovae (KNe)) contribute, and some classes of core-collapse supernovae (SNe) are also possible sources of at least the lighter r -process species. The discovery of 60 Fe on the Earth and Moon implies that one or more astrophysical explosions have occurred near the Earth within the last few million years, probably SNe. Intriguingly, 244 Pu has now been detected, mostly overlapping with 60 Fe pulses. However, the 244 Pu flux may extend to before 12 Myr ago, pointing to a different origin. Motivated by these observations and difficulties for r -process nucleosynthesis in SN models, we propose that ejecta from a KN enriched the giant molecular cloud that gave rise to the Local Bubble, where the Sun resides. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements of 244 Pu and searches for other live isotopes could probe the origins of the r -process and the history of the solar neighborhood, including triggers for mass extinctions, e.g., that at the end of the Devonian epoch, motivating the calculations of the abundances of live r -process radioisotopes produced in SNe and KNe that we present here.more »Given the presence of 244 Pu, other r -process species such as 93 Zr, 107 Pd, 129 I, 135 Cs, 182 Hf, 236 U, 237 Np, and 247 Cm should be present. Their abundances and well-resolved time histories could distinguish between the SN and KN scenarios, and we discuss prospects for their detection in deep-ocean deposits and the lunar regolith. We show that AMS 129 I measurements in Fe–Mn crusts already constrain a possible nearby KN scenario.« less
  3. Meteoritic analysis demonstrates that radioactive nuclei heavier than iron were present in the early Solar System. Among them, 129I and 247Cm both have a rapid neutron-capture process (r process) origin and decay on the same timescale (≃ 15.6 Myr). We show that the 129I/247Cm abundance ratio in the early Solar System (438±184) is immune to galactic evolution uncertainties and represents the first direct observational constraint for the properties of the last r-process event that polluted the pre-solar nebula. We investigate the physical conditions of this event using nucleosynthesis calculations and demonstrate that moderately neutron-rich ejecta can produce the observed ratio. We conclude that a dominant contribution by exceedingly neutron-rich ejecta is highly disfavoured.
  4. Radioactive nuclei are the key to understanding the circumstances of the birth of our Sun because meteoritic analysis has proven that many of them were present at that time. Their origin, however, has been so far elusive. The ERC-CoG-2016 RADIOSTAR project is dedicated to investigating the production of radioactive nuclei by nuclear reactions inside stars, their evolution in the Milky Way Galaxy, and their presence in molecular clouds. So far, we have discovered that: (i) radioactive nuclei produced by slow (107Pd and 182Hf) and rapid (129I and 247Cm) neutron captures originated from stellar sources —asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars and compact binary mergers, respectively—within the galactic environment that predated the formation of the molecular cloud where the Sun was born; (ii) the time that elapsed from the birth of the cloud to the birth of the Sun was of the order of 107 years, and (iii) the abundances of the very short-lived nuclei 26Al, 36Cl, and 41Ca can be explained by massive star winds in single or binary systems, if these winds directly polluted the early Solar System. Our current and future work, as required to finalise the picture of the origin of radioactive nuclei in the Solar System, involvesmore »studying the possible origin of radioactive nuclei in the early Solar System from core-collapse supernovae, investigating the production of 107Pd in massive star winds, modelling the transport and mixing of radioactive nuclei in the galactic and molecular cloud medium, and calculating the galactic chemical evolution of 53Mn and 60Fe and of the p-process isotopes 92Nb and 146Sm.« less
  5. ABSTRACT The origin of the proton-rich trans-iron isotopes in the Solar system is still uncertain. Single-degenerate thermonuclear supernovae (SNIa) with n-capture nucleosynthesis seeds assembled in the external layers of the progenitor’s rapidly accreting white dwarf (RAWD) phase may produce these isotopes. We calculate the stellar structure of the accretion phase of five white dwarf (WD) models with initial masses ≥ 0.85 $\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ using the stellar code mesa The near-surface layers of the 1, 1.26, 1.32 and 1.38 $\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ models are most representative of the regions in which the bulk of the p nuclei are produced during SNIa explosions, and for these models we also calculate the neutron-capture nucleosynthesis in the external layers. Contrary to previous RAWD models at lower mass, we find that the H-shell flashes are the main site of n-capture nucleosynthesis. We find high neutron densities up to several 1015 cm−3 in the most massive WDs. Through the recurrence of the H-shell flashes these intermediate neutron densities can be sustained effectively for a long time leading to high-neutron exposures with a strong production up to Pb. Both the neutron density and the neutron exposure increase with increasing the mass of the accreting WD. Finally, the SNIa nucleosynthesis is calculatedmore »using the obtained abundances as seeds. We obtain solar to supersolar abundances for p-nuclei with A > 96. Our models show that SNIa are a viable p-process production site.« less