On Neutron Star Mergers as the Source of r-process-enhanced Metal-poor Stars in the Milky Way

Mohammadtaher Safarzadeh, Richard Sarmento, and Evan Scannapieco
Astrophysical Journal 876, 28 Link to Article [DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab1341 ]
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, USA

We model the history of Galactic r-process enrichment using high-redshift, high-resolution zoom cosmological simulations of a Milky Way–type halo. We assume that all r-process sources are neutron star mergers (NSMs) with a power-law delay time distribution. We model the time to mix pollutants at subgrid scales, which allows us to better compute the properties of metal-poor (MP) and carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars, along with statistics of their r-process-enhanced subclasses. Our simulations underpredict the cumulative ratios of r-process-enhanced MP and CEMP stars (MP-r, CEMP-r) over MP and CEMP stars by about one order of magnitude, even when the minimum coalescence time of the double neutron stars (DNSs), t min, is set to 1 Myr. No r-process-enhanced stars form if t min = 100 Myr. Our results show that even when we adopt the r-process yield estimates observed in GW170817, NSMs by themselves can only explain the observed frequency of r-process-enhanced stars if the birth rate of DNSs per unit mass of stars is boosted to $\approx {10}^{-4}\,{M}_{\odot }^{-1}$.


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