Astronomy Colloquium for 2023-09-06

Series: Astronomy Colloquium
Date: Wednesday 06-Sep-2023
Time: 16:05-17:00 (4:05-5:00 pm)
Location: ATL 2400
Speaker: Dr. Sanjana Curtis (UC Berkeley)
Title: Heavy element nucleosynthesis and kilonovae from compact object mergers

From the gallium in our semiconductors to the gold in our jewelry, heavy elements occupy myriad roles in human life, including that of a mystery -- their astrophysical production via the r-process has been a topic of debate since the 1950s. Kilonovae are the only direct observational evidence of r-process nucleosynthesis in situ and thus hold great promise for uncovering how and where heavy elements are produced. While the landmark detection of the kilonova counterpart to GW170817 confirmed that neutron star mergers are a site of the r-process, several open questions remain when it comes to the details of nucleosynthesis in merger ejecta and resulting kilonova light curves. In this talk, I will discuss both binary neutron star mergers and black hole-neutron star mergers, with a focus on the r-process and kilonovae. I will present our latest predictions based on cutting-edge, general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations. Crucially, we include important neutrino physics that sets the electron fraction of the ejecta, and in turn, the heavy element abundances. I will show how detailed numerical modeling can allow us to link kilonovae to their progenitors, interpret past and future observations of these transients, and gain unprecedented insight into the origin of heavy elements.

In-person colloquia are usually preceded by espresso and ice cream at 1:45 pm outside room PSC 1150 and are followed by an informal reception at 5:15 pm in that room. Anyone interested in talking with the speaker, or being added to the colloquium announcement email list, should contact the colloquium organizer Dr. Leslie Sage. Lunch will normally be reserved for the speaker to talk to graduate students. Anyone asking a question during a talk is asked to raise their hand and be acknowledged before speaking. Contact Dr. Leslie Sage for details.

Colloquium Organizer: Dr. Leslie Sage


Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities can be made by calling (301) 405-3001. It would be appreciated if we are notified at least one week in advance.


Directions and information about parking can be found here.

This page was automatically generated on: 31-Aug-2023.