The cosmic origin of the chemical elements

Anna Frebel

Professor of Physics / MIT

Friday, January 26, 2018

11:00am

NW17-218

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We are made from star stuff -- but how exactly? I will describe how elements up to and including iron are made in fusion processes within the hot cores of stars, and how all the heavier elements are synthesized in neutron-capture processes. There are a several astrophysical sites where neutron-capture can take place, including neutron star mergers. The LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories recently detected the signal of a neutron star merger. The subsequent "kilonova" afterglow was detected across the electromagnetic spectrum. It was the result of an enormous production of heavy elements during the merger.