The R-Process Alliance: Discovery of the First Metal-poor Star with a Combined r- and s-process Element Signature*

Maude Gull1 et al. (>10)
The Astrophysical Journal 862, 174 Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/aacbc3]
1Department of Physics and Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

We present a high-resolution (R ~ 35,000), high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N > 200) Magellan/MIKE spectrum of the star RAVE J094921.8−161722, a bright (V = 11.3) metal-poor red giant star with [Fe/H] = −2.2, identified as a carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) star from the RAVE survey. We report its detailed chemical abundance signature of light fusion elements and heavy neutron-capture elements. We find J0949−1617 to be a CEMP star with s-process enhancement that must have formed from gas enriched by a prior r-process event. Light neutron-capture elements follow a low-metallicity s-process pattern, while the heavier neutron-capture elements above Eu follow an r-process pattern. The Pb abundance is high, in line with an s-process origin. Thorium is also detected, as expected from an r-process origin, as Th is not produced in the s-process. We employ nucleosynthesis model predictions that take an initial r-process enhancement into account, and then determine the mass transfer of carbon and s-process material from a putative more massive companion onto the observed star. The resulting abundances agree well with the observed pattern. We conclude that J0949−1617 is the first bonafide CEMP-r + s star identified. This class of objects has previously been suggested to explain stars with neutron-capture element patterns that originate from neither the r– nor the s-process alone. We speculate that J0949−1617 formed in an environment similar to those of ultra-faint dwarf galaxies like Tucana III and Reticulum II, which were enriched in r-process elements by one or multiple neutron star mergers at the earliest times.

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