University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Cosmology Lunchtime Seminar

Monday, September 12th 2016
12:15 pm:
Speaker: Yong-Zhong Qian (University of Minnesota)
Subject: Did a Low-Mass Supernova Trigger the Formation of the Solar System? Clues from Stable Isotopes and 10Be
Please note change of venue for the seminar.

About 4.6 billion years ago, some event disturbed a cloud of gas and dust, triggering the gravitational collapse that led to the formation of the solar system. A core-collapse supernova, whose shock wave is capable of compressing such a cloud, is an obvious candidate for the initiating event. This hypothesis can be tested because supernovae also produce telltale patterns of short-lived radionuclides, which would be preserved today as isotopic anomalies. Previous studies of the forensic evidence have been inconclusive, finding a pattern of isotopes differing from that produced in conventional supernova models. Here we argue that these difficulties either do not arise or are mitigated if the initiating supernova was a special type, low in mass and explosion energy. Key to our conclusion is the demonstration that short-lived 10Be can be readily synthesized in such supernovae by neutrino interactions, while anomalies in stable isotopes are suppressed.

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