The rare earth peak: an overlooked $r$-process diagnostic

M. Mumpower, G. C. McLaughlin, R. Surman

ApJ, 752, 117 (2012)

The astrophysical site or sites responsible for the $r$-process of nucleosynthesis still remains an enigma. Since the rare earth region is formed in the latter stages of the $r$-process it provides a unique probe of the astrophysical conditions during which the $r$-process takes place. We use features of a successful rare earth region in the context of a high entropy $r$-process ($S\gtrsim100k_B$) and discuss the types of astrophysical conditions that produce abundance patterns that best match meteoritic and observational data. Despite uncertainties in nuclear physics input, this method effectively constrains astrophysical conditions.