The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) is nearing completion at the campus of Michigan State University, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), Michigan State University (MSU), and the State of Michigan. On September 29, 2020, FRIB received designation as a Department of Energy Office of Science user facility. Preparing for science in 2022, FRIB will provide intense beams of more than 1000 rare isotopes (that is, short-lived, unstable nuclei) that have never been produced on Earth before. This will provide unprecedented opportunities to address open questions in nuclear astrophysics, in particular element synthesis in stellar explosions and collisions of neutron stars.
JINA and JINA-CEE have been instrumental in developing the nuclear astrophysics science case for FRIB over the last two decades, and in forming the interdisciplinary research community that is needed to take advantage of this new opportunity. This community includes rare isotope experimentalists, experimentalists working with a variety of other types of beams above and underground, astronomical observers, gravitational wave physicists, theoretical physicists, and computational modelers.
Active collaboration between nuclear scientists and astrophysicists will be essential to develop the early experiment proposals for FRIB that maximize the impact on the field. To that end, JINA-CEE recently organized a series of sessions dedicated to nuclear astrophysics within the FRIB First Experiments: Proposal Preparation Workshop held online in May 2020. The event brought experimentalists and astrophysicists together to discuss the exciting opportunities at FRIB and kick off collaborations to develop proposals and create the long-lasting interdisciplinary connections that will be needed to interpret the results. The website created to host these sessions continues to evolve and serves as an FRIB Nuclear Astrophysics Connection Hub for connecting nuclear experimentalists and astrophysicists interested in FRIB science.
JINA-CEE has also been a driver for the development of new experimental equipment for FRIB taking advantage of the technical synergies emerging from close collaboration between rare isotope laboratories and stable beam facilities. An example is the SECAR recoil separator, which enables the direct measurement of astrophysical reaction rates at FRIB. Based on experience with the JINA recoil separator St. George at Notre Dame, JINA-CEE researchers at Notre Dame have designed SECAR, which has then been built with support from DOE Office of Science and NSF by a multi university and national laboratory collaboration, and is currently undergoing commissioning at MSU.
Through the newly formed IReNA network, JINA-CEE has initiated strategic alliances with five other interdisciplinary research networks across 17 countries to fully take advantage of new multi-messenger observations. These collaborations will complement and enhance FRIB researchers capabilities, and thus greatly accelerate progress in nuclear astrophysics.