Physics Colloquium: Dr. Benoit Côté, Konkoly Observatory, Budapest


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Physics Colloquium

The Origin and Evolution of the Elements in the Universe

Dr. Benoit Côté
Research Fellow
Konkoly Observatory, Budapest

The chemical composition of the Universe is continuously evolving. Since the Big Bang, which only synthesized hydrogen, helium, and lithium, many astrophysical events such as supernova explosions and neutron star mergers have continued to enrich galaxies with heavier elements. The era of multi-messenger astronomy presents opportunities to study this evolution from a new perspective, by combining constraints from gravitational waves, stellar spectroscopy, and meteorites. Since interpreting these observations is challenged by uncertainties in the wide range of multi-scale processes involved in chemical evolution, building bridges between nuclear physics and galactic evolution is important. Within this context, I will discuss the central role of nuclear astrophysics when quantifying the contribution of different enrichment sites to the chemical compositions we see today. For instance, I will highlight the impact of nuclear reaction rate and stellar evolution uncertainties on galactic chemical evolution predictions, and present how radioactive isotopes extracted from meteorites can shed light on the last r-process event that occurred prior to the formation of the Solar System. This research demonstrates the need for multi-disciplinary collaborations in order to develop a coherent picture of the origin of the elements and isotopes in the Universe.

Hosted by Prof. Surman

All interested persons are invited to attend remotely—email for information.