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The Emergence of a Lanthanide-rich Kilonova Following the Merger of Two Neutron Stars
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Number of Authors: 542017 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal Letters, ISSN 2041-8205, E-ISSN 2041-8213, Vol. 848, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We 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-s-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 approximate to 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 848, no 2
Keywords [en]
gravitational waves, nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances, stars: neutron
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148994DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa90b6ISI: 000413099200015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148994DiVA, id: diva2:1160559
Available from: 2017-11-27 Created: 2017-11-27 Last updated: 2017-11-27Bibliographically approved

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