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Neutron star mergers and rare core-collapse supernovae as sources of r-process enrichment in simulated galaxies

Van De Voort, F, Pakmor, R, Grand, RJJ, Springel, V, Gómez, FA and Marinacci, F (2020) Neutron star mergers and rare core-collapse supernovae as sources of r-process enrichment in simulated galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 494 (4). pp. 4867-4883. ISSN 0035-8711

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We use cosmological, magnetohydrodynamical simulations of Milky Way-mass galaxies from the Auriga project to study their enrichment with rapid neutron capture (r-process) elements. We implement a variety of enrichment models from both binary neutron star mergers and rare core-collapse supernovae. We focus on the abundances of (extremely) metal-poor stars, most of which were formed during the first ∼Gyr of the Universe in external galaxies and later accreted on to the main galaxy. We find that the majority of metal-poor stars are r-process enriched in all our enrichment models. Neutron star merger models result in a median r-process abundance ratio, which increases with metallicity, whereas the median trend in rare core-collapse supernova models is approximately flat. The scatter in r-process abundance increases for models with longer delay times or lower rates of r-process-producing events. Our results are nearly perfectly converged, in part due to the mixing of gas between mesh cells in the simulations. Additionally, different Milky Way-mass galaxies show only small variation in their respective r-process abundance ratios. Current (sparse and potentially biased) observations of metal-poor stars in the Milky Way seem to prefer rare core-collapse supernovae over neutron star mergers as the dominant source of r-process elements at low metallicity, but we discuss possible caveats to our models. Dwarf galaxies that experience a single r-process event early in their history show highly enhanced r-process abundances at low metallicity, which is seen both in observations and in our simulations. We also find that the elements produced in a single event are mixed with ≈108 M≥ of gas relatively quickly, distributing the r-process elements over a large region.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2020 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences; Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2023 12:02
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2023 12:02
DOI or ID number: 10.1093/mnras/staa754
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19304
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