From Actinides to Zinc: Using the Full Abundance Pattern of the Brightest Star in Reticulum II to Distinguish between Different
Author(s)Ji, Alexander P.; Frebel, Anna L.
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The ultra-faint dwarf galaxy Reticulum II was enriched by a rare and prolific r-process event, such as a neutron star merger (NSM). To investigate the nature of this event, we present high-resolution Magellan/MIKE spectroscopy of the brightest star in this galaxy. The high signal-to-noise allows us to determine the abundances of 41 elements, including the radioactive actinide element Th and first ever detections of third r-process peak elements (Os and Ir) in a star outside the Milky Way. The observed neutron-capture element abundances closely match the solar r-process component, except for the first r-process peak, which is significantly lower than solar but matches other r-process enhanced stars. The ratio of the first peak to heavier r-process elements implies that the r-process site produces roughly equal masses of high and low electron fraction ejecta, within a factor of 2. We compare the detailed abundance pattern to predictions from nucleosynthesis calculations of NSMs and magnetorotationally driven jet supernovae, finding that nuclear physics uncertainties dominate over astrophysical uncertainties. We measure Th/Eu = -0.84 ± 0.06(stat) ± 0.22 (sys), somewhat lower than all previous Th/Eu observations. The youngest age we derive from this ratio is 21.7 ± 2.8 (stat) ± 10.3 (sys) Gyr, indicating that current initial production ratios do not describe the r-process event in Reticulum II. The abundances of light elements up to Zn are consistent with extremely metal-poor Milky Way halo stars. They may eventually provide a way to distinguish between NSMs and magnetorotationally driven jet supernovae, but this would require more detailed knowledge of the chemical evolution of Reticulum II.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Physics; MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
American Astronomical Society
Ji, Alexander P. and Anna Frebel. “From Actinides to Zinc: Using the Full Abundance Pattern of the Brightest Star in Reticulum II to Distinguish Between Different r-Process Sites.” The Astrophysical Journal 856, 2 (April 2018): 138 © 2018 American Astronomical Society
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