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Published February 2017 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

The Influence of Neutrinos on r-Process Nucleosynthesis in the Ejecta of Black Hole-Neutron Star Mergers


During the merger of a black hole and a neutron star, baryonic mass can become unbound from the system. Because the ejected material is extremely neutron-rich, the r-process rapidly synthesizes heavy nuclides as the material expands and cools. In this work, we map general relativistic models of black hole–neutron star mergers into a Newtonian smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code and follow the evolution of the thermodynamics and morphology of the ejecta until the outflows become homologous. We investigate how the subsequent evolution depends on our mapping procedure and find that the results are robust. Using thermodynamic histories from the SPH particles, we then calculate the expected nucleosynthesis in these outflows while varying the level of neutrino irradiation coming from the post-merger accretion disc. We find that the ejected material robustly produces r-process nucleosynthesis even for unrealistically high neutrino luminosities, due to the rapid velocities of the outflow. None the less, we find that neutrinos can have an impact on the detailed pattern of the r-process nucleosynthesis. Electron neutrinos are captured by neutrons to produce protons while neutron capture is occurring. The produced protons rapidly form low-mass seed nuclei for the r-process. These low-mass seeds are eventually incorporated into the first r-process peak at A ∼ 78. We consider the mechanism of this process in detail and discuss if it can impact galactic chemical evolution of the first peak r-process nuclei.

Additional Information

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2016 October 11. Received 2016 September 26; in original form 2016 January 28; Editorial Decision 2016 October 9. LFR acknowledges Yongzhong Qian and Projjwal Banerjee for useful discussions relating to this work. Support for this work was provided by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship grants numbered PF3-140114 (LFR) and PF4-150122 (FF) awarded by the Chandra X-ray Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for NASA under contract NAS8-03060. JL and CDO are partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under award nos. TCAN AST-1333520, CAREER PHY-1151197 and AST-1205732, and by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. JCL is supported by NSF grant number AST-1313091. This work also benefitted from NSF support through award no. PHY-1430152 (Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics Center for the Evolution of the Elements). MDD acknowledges support through NSF Grant PHY-1402916.

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Published - stw2622.pdf

Submitted - 1601.07942v1.pdf


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