Horizons: nuclear astrophysics in the 2020s and beyond
Abstract

Nuclear astrophysics is a field at the intersection of nuclear physics and astrophysics, which seeks to understand the nuclear engines of astronomical objects and the origin of the chemical elements. This white paper summarizes progress and status of the field, the new open questions that have emerged, and the tremendous scientific opportunities that have opened up with major advances in capabilities across an ever growing number of disciplines and subfields that need to be integrated. We take a holistic view of the field discussing the unique challenges and opportunities in nuclear astrophysics in regards to science, diversity, education, and the interdisciplinarity and breadth of the field. Clearly nuclear astrophysics is a dynamic field with a bright future that is entering a new era of discovery opportunities.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more »
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10381270
Journal Name:
Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
Volume:
49
Issue:
11
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 110502
ISSN:
0954-3899
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
National Science Foundation
##### More Like this
1. ABSTRACT

The study of the origin of heavy elements is one of the main goals of nuclear astrophysics. In this paper, we present new observational data for the heavy r-process elements gadolinium (Gd, Z= 64), dysprosium (Dy, Z= 66), and thorium (Th, Z= 90) in a sample of 276 Galactic disc stars (–1.0 < [Fe/H] < + 0.3). The stellar spectra have a high resolution of 42 000 and 75 000, and the signal-to-noise ratio higher than 100. The LTE abundances of Gd, Dy, and Th have been determined by comparing the observed and synthetic spectra for three Gd lines (149 stars), four Dy lines (152 stars), and the Th line at 4019.13 Å (170 stars). For about 70 per cent of the stars in our sample, Gd and Dy are measured for the first time, and Th for 95 per cent of the stars. Typical errors vary from 0.07 to 0.16 dex. This paper provides the first extended set of Th observations in the Milky Way disc. Together with europium (Eu, Z= 63) data from our previous studies, we have compared these new observations with nucleosynthesis predictions and Galactic Chemical Evolution simulations. We confirm that [Gd/Fe] and [Dy/Fe] show the same behaviour of Eu. We study with GCE simulationsmore »

2. Abstract

In this article we shed light on newly emerging perspectives to characterize and understand the interplay of diffusive mass transport and surface catalytic processes in pores of gas phase metal catalysts. As a case study, nanoporous gold, as an interesting example exhibiting a well-defined pore structure and a high activity for total and partial oxidation reactions is considered. PFG NMR (pulsed field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance) measurements allowed here for a quantitative evaluation of gas diffusivities within the material. STEM (scanning transmission electron microscopy) tomography furthermore provided additional insight into the structural details of the pore system, helping to judge which of its features are most decisive for slowing down mass transport. Based on the quantitative knowledge about the diffusion coefficients inside a porous catalyst, it becomes possible to disentangle mass transport contributions form the measured reaction kinetics and to determine the kinetic rate constant of the underlying catalytic surface reaction. In addition, predictions can be made for an improved effectiveness of the catalyst, i.e., optimized conversion rates. This approach will be discussed at the example of low-temperature CO oxidation, efficiently catalysed by npAu at 30 °C. The case study shall reveal that novel porous materials exhibiting well-defined micro- andmore »

Graphical Abstract

3. Abstract The coming decades will establish the exploration of the gravitational wave (GW) Universe over a broad frequency range by ground and space interferometers. Meanwhile, wide-field, high-cadence and sensitive surveys will span the electromagnetic spectrum from radio all the way up to TeV, as well as the high-energy neutrino window. Among the numerous classes of transients, γ –ray bursts (GRBs) have direct links with most of the hot topics that will be addressed, such as the strong gravity regime, relativistic shocks, particle acceleration processes, equation of state of matter at nuclear density, and nucleosynthesis of heavy elements, just to mention a few. Other recently discovered classes of transients that are observed throughout cosmological distances include fast radio bursts (FRBs), fast blue optical transients (FBOTs), and other unidentified high-energy transients. Here we discuss how these topics can be addressed by a mission called ASTENA (Advanced Surveyor of Transient Events and Nuclear Astrophysics, see Frontera et al. 18). Its payload combines two instruments: (i) an array of wide-field monitors with imaging, spectroscopic, and polarimetric capabilities (WFM-IS); (ii) a narrow field telescope (NFT) based on a Laue lens operating in the 50–600 keV range with unprecedented angular resolution, polarimetric capabilities, and sensitivity.
4. Abstract

The next two decades are expected to open the door to the first coincident detections of electromagnetic (EM) and gravitational-wave (GW) signatures associated with massive black-hole (MBH) binaries heading for coalescence. These detections will launch a new era of multimessenger astrophysics by expanding this growing field to the low-frequency GW regime and will provide an unprecedented understanding of the evolution of MBHs and galaxies. They will also constitute fundamentally new probes of cosmology and would enable unique tests of gravity. The aim of this Living Review is to provide an introduction to this research topic by presenting a summary of key findings, physical processes and ideas pertaining to EM counterparts to MBH mergers as they are known at the time of this writing. We review current observational evidence for close MBH binaries, discuss relevant physical processes and timescales, and summarize the possible EM counterparts to GWs in the precursor, coalescence, and afterglow stages of a MBH merger. We also describe open questions and discuss future prospects in this dynamic and quick-paced research area.

5. Abstract

Contact binary star systems represent the long-lived penultimate phase of binary evolution. Population statistics of their physical parameters inform an understanding of binary evolutionary pathways and end products. We use light curves and new optical spectroscopy to conduct a pilot study of ten (near) contact systems in the long-period (P> 0.5 days) tail of close binaries in the Kepler field. We use PHOEBE light-curve models to compute Bayesian probabilities on five principal system parameters. Mass ratios and third-light contributions measured from spectra agree well with those inferred from the light curves. Pilot study systems have extreme mass ratiosq< 0.32. Most are triples. Analysis of the unbiased sample of 783 0.15 d <P< 2 days (near) contact binaries results in 178 probable contact systems, 114 probable detached systems, and 491 ambiguous systems for which we report best-fitting and 16th-/50th-/84th-percentile parameters. Contact systems are rare at periodsP> 0.5 days, as are systems withq> 0.8. There exists an empirical mass ratio lower limit$qmin(P)$≈ 0.05–0.15 below which contact systems are absent, supporting a new set of theoretical predictions obtained by modeling the evolution of contact systems under the constraints of mass and angular momentum conservation. Premerger systems shouldmore »