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, involves more »
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10358354
Journal Name:
Universe
Volume:
8
Issue:
2
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
130
ISSN:
2218-1997
5. Abstract The cosmic evolution of the chemical elements from the Big Bang to the present time is driven by nuclear fusion reactions inside stars and stellar explosions. A cycle of matter recurrently re-processes metal-enriched stellar ejecta into the next generation of stars. The study of cosmic nucleosynthesis and this matter cycle requires the understanding of the physics of nuclear reactions, of the conditions at which the nuclear reactions are activated inside the stars and stellar explosions, of the stellar ejection mechanisms through winds and explosions, and of the transport of the ejecta towards the next cycle, from hot plasma to cold, star-forming gas. Due to the long timescales of stellar evolution, and because of the infrequent occurrence of stellar explosions, observational studies are challenging, as they have biases in time and space as well as different sensitivities related to the various astronomical methods. Here, we describe in detail the astrophysical and nuclear-physical processes involved in creating two radioactive isotopes useful in such studies, $^{26}\mathrm{Al}$ and $^{60}\mathrm{Fe}$ . Due to their radioactive lifetime of the order of a million years, these isotopes are suitable to characterise simultaneously the processes of nuclear fusion reactions and of interstellar transport. We describe and discussmore »