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Title

The Emergence of a Lanthanide-rich Kilonova Following the Merger of Two Neutron Stars

AuthorsTanvir, N.R.; Cano, Z.; Ugarte Postigo, Antonio de ; Hodosan, G.; Kann, D. A.; Thöne, Cristina Carina ; Wijers, R. A.M.J.
KeywordsStars: neutron
Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
Gravitational waves
Issue Date2017
PublisherInstitute of Physics Publishing
CitationThe Astrophysical Journal Letters 848(2): L27 (2017)
AbstractWe report the discovery and monitoring of the near-infrared counterpart (AT2017gfo) of a binary neutron-star merger event detected as a gravitational wave source by Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)/Virgo (GW170817) and as a short gamma-ray burst by Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) and Integral SPI-ACS (GRB 170817A). The evolution of the transient light is consistent with predictions for the behavior of a >kilonova/macronova> powered by the radioactive decay of massive neutron-rich nuclides created via r-process nucleosynthesis in the neutron-star ejecta. In particular, evidence for this scenario is found from broad features seen in Hubble Space Telescope infrared spectroscopy, similar to those predicted for lanthanide-dominated ejecta, and the much slower evolution in the near-infrared k-band compared to the optical. This indicates that the late-time light is dominated by high-opacity lanthanide-rich ejecta, suggesting nucleosynthesis to the third r-process peak (atomic masses A ≈ 195). This discovery confirms that neutron-star mergers produce kilo-/macronovae and that they are at least a major - if not the dominant - site of rapid neutron capture nucleosynthesis in the universe.
DescriptionTanvir, N.R. et. al.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/164537
Identifiersdoi: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa90b6
issn: 2041-8213
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