Life under blazing stars: supernova mysteries

Georgios Perdikakis,
Saturday, Dec 14, 10:30 AM - Advanced Studies Gateway Event
1300 FRIB Laboratory

Abstract:  The atoms that make up the world we live in have affected human life for thousands of years. All of the prosperity, peace, culture, power, and progress we experience is based on the availability of the planet's natural resources. We value the rarest of elements we can find on Earth. We use them in technology, art, and jewelry. We need these elements to sustain our living bodies. As resources run out, we turn to quests for new habitable worlds to mine. Yet, meaningful pieces of information about the origin of elements in the universe are lost to us. Scientists have turned to the stars and to the atomic nucleus to understand supernovae and other spectacular explosions. To uncover how the fateful pattern of element compositions came to be in our corner of the universe (or elsewhere), we will need to understand thousands of nuclear reactions in stars and predict their outcome. Most of these reactions with the mysterious isotopes that live and die inside blazing stars have not been observed yet. But with a facility in East Lansing that will make supernova isotopes into beams, it's only a matter of time before new discoveries will be made.