EXC Application

We are currently at the application stage for a Cluster of Excellence (EXC 3089) in the framework of the Excellence Strategy of the German Federal and State Governments.

The overarching goal of the EXC ELEMENTS is to understand the production of heavy elements in the Universe. Their generation by the rapid neutron-capture process (the r-process) requires proper physical conditions, and the astronomical sites for their synthesis have been unknown for decades. However, this has changed recently with the evidence of the formation of heavy chemical elements during a binary neutron-star merger event. This EXC initiative will address the entire “scientific production-chain”, that is, the complex series of scientific steps needed for understanding the cosmic synthesis of heavy elements. This involves exploring the structure of neutron stars at supernuclear densities, which is related to the microphysics of the strong interaction, and also the dynamics of their mergers, which is related to the macrophysics of the strong interaction.

In the new era of multi-messenger astronomy, a basic question has become even more pressing: how are heavy elements such as gold produced in the Universe? While this question is as simple as it is direct, an answer is far from trivial as the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements hinges on some of the most complex and fascinating aspects of modern physics. Indeed, the production of gold is tightly related to a number of fundamental-physics questions that are at the core of the science explored by ELEMENTS:

1. What are the properties of matter under extreme conditions?
2. What information about merging binary neutron stars is provided by gravitational waves and ejecta?
3. What are the microphysical conditions under which the r-process operates?
4. What do astronomical observations tell us about the synthesis of heavy elements?

Participating Institutions:

Cooperation Partner: