r-process nucleosynthesis and the production of heavy elements: A nuclear physics perspective
(ECT*), Trento, Italy
About half of the chemical elements heavier than iron that found in nature are produced during the rapid neutron-capture process (r process). In August 2017, the observation of the kilonova light curve, an electromagnetic transient produced by the radioactive decay of r-process nuclei synthesized during the merger of two neutron stars, marked the beginning of a new era for r-process studies where nucleosynthesis predictions can be directly confronted with astronomical observations. In order to extract information about the ejecta composition producing such light curves, accurate nuclear astrophysics simulations are required. In particular, the modeling of nuclear structure properties of neutron-rich nuclei and related sensitivity studies addressing the impact of theoretical uncertainties are crucial ingredients to properly understand the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in the universe.
In this talk, I will present some recent network calculations based on nuclear input obtained within the Density Functional Theory (DFT) framework. During the first part I will discuss the role of nuclear masses and fission properties in the production of translead nuclei and the possible implications for the electromagnetic counterparts produced during neutron star mergers. In the second part of this talk, I will introduce some recent advances regarding the large-scale DFT calculation of fission fragments distributions and the estimation of theoretical uncertainties using Bayesian machine-learning techniques.