Award Date: August 2013
The Nuclear Physics Division of the Department of Energy's Office of Science has awarded Professor of Physics Rebecca Surman a grant for $102,000 to support her research "Neutrino and Nuclear Physics of Heavy Element Synthesis." The DOE has sponsored Principal Investigator Surman's research since 2005, which includes advances in the field with each successful renewal. PI Surman works closely with undergraduate research assistants, involving students in meaningful ways through her research investigations.
The astrophysical origins of the elements heavier than iron are shrouded in mystery. While we understand the basics of the nuclear processes that create these elements, we do not yet know where the appropriate astrophysical conditions are found. Many of the potential sites are environments where neutrino interactions shape the resulting nucleosynthesis. The nuclei created are often extremely neutron-rich, beyond what has been observed to date but increasingly accessible to radioactive beam experiments. Here we propose work to investigate the neutrino and nuclear physics of the synthesis of heavy elements in supernovae and black hole accretion disks.