Colloquium: On the cosmic origin of the heavy elements
Date and Time
On the cosmic origin of the heavy elements
Gravitational-wave observatories are currently revolutionizing astrophysics and astronomy. Detections of neutron star mergers trigger follow-up campaigns of unprecedented scope by astronomers and astroparticle physicists worldwide. What do these new messengers—-gravity and light—-tell us about the Universe? Arguably one of the most exciting fundamental questions one can ask in this context relates to the origin of the heavy elements in our periodic table: How does the Universe create the so-called rapid neutron-capture elements, whose cosmic origin has been a mystery for more than six decades? In this talk I will attempt to provide an overview of some exciting recent developments at the interface of high-energy astrophysics, strong gravity, and nuclear physics, and highlight implications for chemical evolution and cosmology.