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  1. Abstract We present a nearly complete rapid neutron-capture process ( r -process) chemical inventory of the metal-poor ([Fe/H] = −1.46 ± 0.10) r -process-enhanced ([Eu/Fe] = +1.32 ± 0.08) halo star HD 222925. This abundance set is the most complete for any object beyond the solar system, with a total of 63 metals detected and seven with upper limits. It comprises 42 elements from 31 ≤ Z ≤ 90, including elements rarely detected in r -process-enhanced stars, such as Ga, Ge, As, Se, Cd, In, Sn, Sb, Te, W, Re, Os, Ir, Pt, and Au. We derive these abundances from an analysis of 404 absorption lines in ultraviolet spectra collected using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope and previously analyzed optical spectra. A series of appendices discusses the atomic data and quality of fits for these lines. The r -process elements from Ba to Pb, including all elements at the third r -process peak, exhibit remarkable agreement with the solar r -process residuals, with a standard deviation of the differences of only 0.08 dex (17%). In contrast, deviations among the lighter elements from Ga to Te span nearly 1.4 dex, and they show distinct trends frommore »Ga to Se, Nb through Cd, and In through Te. The r -process contribution to Ga, Ge, and As is small, and Se is the lightest element whose production is dominated by the r -process. The lanthanide fraction, log X La = −1.39 ± 0.09, is typical for r -process-enhanced stars and higher than that of the kilonova from the GW170817 neutron-star merger event. We advocate adopting this pattern as an alternative to the solar r -process-element residuals when confronting future theoretical models of heavy-element nucleosynthesis with observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
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  4. 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.