The nuclear physics uncertainty of kilonova heating rates and the role of fission

Y. Zhu, T. M. Sprouse, M. Mumpower, N. Vassh, R. Surman, G. C. McLaughlin

Published NIC XV ch 92 (2019)

The detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to GW170817 suggests that r-process elements are produced in neutron star mergers. This electromagnetic counterpart has been modeled as a kilonova, which is a light curve thought to be powered mainly from the radioactive decay of heavy elements formed. We investigate uncertainties on the nuclear heating from the nuclear physics inputs of nucleosynthesis simulations. Using 12 theoretical mass models in regions where experimental mass measurements are unavailable, we find that the uncertainty in the total nuclear heating rate is a factor of a few. The $\beta$-decay is the dominating heating channel at about 1 day after merger for all 12 mass models. The energy contribution from fission are not negligible at around one day.

LA-UR-18-29236

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