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Journal Article

Cosmic nucleosynthesis: A multi-messenger challenge


Diehl,  Roland
High Energy Astrophysics, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Diehl, R., Korn, A. J., Leibundgut, B., Lugaro, M., & Wallner, A. (2022). Cosmic nucleosynthesis: A multi-messenger challenge. Progress in Particle and Nuclear Physics, 127: 103983. doi:10.1016/j.ppnp.2022.103983.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-A47D-F
The origins of the elements and isotopes of cosmic material is a critical aspect of understanding the evolution of the universe. Nucleosynthesis typically requires physical conditions of high temperatures and densities. These are found in the Big Bang, in the interiors of stars, and in explosions with their compressional shocks and high neutrino and neutron fluxes. Many different tools are available to disentangle the composition of cosmic matter, in material of extraterrestrial origins such as cosmic rays, meteorites, stardust grains, lunar and terrestrial sediments, and through astronomical observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Understanding cosmic abundances and their evolution requires combining such measurements with approaches of astrophysical, nuclear theories and laboratory experiments, and exploiting additional cosmic messengers, such as neutrinos and gravitational waves. Recent years have seen significant progress in almost all these fields; they are presented in this review. Models are required to explore nuclear fusion of heavier elements. These have been confirmed by observations of nucleosynthesis products in the ejecta of stars and supernovae, as captured by stardust grains and by characteristic lines in spectra seen from these objects, and also by ejecta material captured by Earth over millions of years in sediments. All these help to piece together how cosmic materials are transported in interstellar space and re-cycled into and between generations of stars. Our description of cosmic compositional evolution needs observational support, as it rests on several assumptions that appear challenged. This overview presents the flow of cosmic matter and the various sites of nucleosynthesis, as understood from combining many techniques and observations, towards the current knowledge of how the universe is enriched with elements.