It's a Blast!
Exotic Heavy Elements in the Young Milky Way Galaxy

Dr. Chris Sneden
Dept. of Astronomy, Univ. of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, April 27th
Abstract:

The rare "exotic" heavy elements, such as precious metals gold and silver, and radioactive elements thorium and uranium, can only be synthesized in the interiors of stars very late in their lifetimes, via so-called neutron-capture events. Over the last decade stellar spectroscopists have discovered startling examples of stars born near the start of our Galaxy that have huge relative overabundances of all of these neutron-capture elements. In this talk we will describe the discoveries, show how the detailed element-to-element abundance ratios clearly identify the synthesis mechanism(s), and demonstrate the use of these element abundances in estimating the age of our Milky Way Galaxy. The abundances of exotic heavy elements lead directly to insights on the first generations of element-producing stars in the Galaxy.


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