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Nuclear astrophysics

Deep-sea diving for stellar debris

Deep-sea sediments reveal the production sites of the heaviest chemical elements in the Universe to be neutron star mergers — rare events that eject large amounts of mass — and not core-collapse supernovae.

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Figure 1: Ratios of [Mg/Fe] (blue uncertainty range, indicating 95% of observations) and [Eu/Fe] (individual stellar observations shown as red error bars) as a function of 'metallicity' [Fe/H] for stars in our Galaxy, taken from a database (http://sagadatabase.jp/wiki/doku.php; refs 10,11).

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Correspondence to Friedrich-Karl Thielemann.

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Thielemann, FK. Deep-sea diving for stellar debris. Nature Phys 11, 993–994 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys3591

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