Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 26

Nucleosynthesis 8/26/10

How did the various nuclides originate?

What determines their abundance?

When were the elements created?

Lecture outline:
1) The age of the universe

2) The Big Bang

3) Nucleosynthesis initial + stellar

4) Abundance of elements

900s exposure from Palomar

The Age of the Universe
Four methods of determining age of universe:

1) Cosmological models Ho (the Hubble constant ratio of velocity to distance

in expansion of universe) To=13.7 billion years

2) Isotope geochemistry 187Re 187Os, t1/2=40 billion years To=12-17 billion years
238U decay, t =4.5 billion years T =12.5-16 billion years
1/2 o

3) Age of oldest star clusters -- measure luminosity

of brightest star, relies on
stellar evolutionary model,
To=11-13 billion years

4) Oldest white dwarfs -- measure luminosity

of faint white dwarfs to determine
how long they have been cooling,
To=12-13 billion years
The Big Bang
- 1920s: LeMaitre proposes on theoretical grounds that the
universe is expanding

- 1929: Hubble observed galaxies moving away from us with speeds

proportional to distance

- 1964: Penzias and Wilson detect primordial static left over from
Big Bang

Time After Big Bang Temperature (K) Event

5.39 x 10-44 s -- appearance of space, time, energy,

and superforce
10-43 s 1031 gravity separates
10-35 s 1028 strong force and electro-weak force
10-33 to 10-32 s 1027 inflation
1 x 10-10 s 1015 electromagnetic and weak force
3 x 10-10 to 5 x 10-6 s ~1013 stabilization of quarks, antiquarks
6 x 10-6 1.4 x 1012 formation of protons and neutrons
10s 3.9 x 109 stabilization of electrons and positrons
3.8 m 9 x 108 formation of 2H, 3He, and 4He nuclei
700,000 y 3000 electrons captured by nuclei

1992 age of universe =

13.73 +/- 1%

image microwave
radiation from 379,000
years after Big Bang

small temperature
differences (10-6 K)
signify heterogeneous
2005 distribution of matter

Nucleosynthesis Schematic
Nucleosynthetic process Elements created

Big bang 1H, 4He, 2H, 3H (Li, B?)

Main sequence stars:

Hydrogen burning 4He

Helium burning 12C, 4He, 24Mg, 16O, 20Ne

Carbon burning 24Mg, 23Na, 20Ne

CNO cycle 4He

x-process (spallation)
& supernova (?) Li, Be, B

a-process 24Mg, 28Si, 32S, 36Ar, 40Ca

e-process 56Fe & other transition

s-process up to mass 209

r-process up to mass 254

Nucleosynthesis during the Big Bang
- initially, protons (1H) and neutrons
combine to form 4He, 2H (D), and 3He
via exothermic fusion reactions.

- some uncertainty about whether

some B, Be, and Li were created at
this stage

- H & He comprise 99% of

mass of universe
Nucleosynthesis during small star evolution

For small star, such as our Sun - star must form from gravitational
accretion of primordial H and He

- temperature ~ 107 after formation

- H-burning creates 4He from 1H,

longest stage of star (107 - 1010y)

- He-burning begins with formation

of Red Giant (T=108)
4He + 4He --> 8Be
8Be + 4He --> 12C
12C + 4He --> 16O and so on to 24Mg

- core contracts as He consumed,

-process begins (T=109)
20Ne --> 16O + 4He
20Ne + 4He --> 24Mg and so on to 40Ca
Nucleosynthesis during small star evolution (cont)

For small star, such as our Sun

- odd # masses created by proton bombardment

- slow neutron addition (s-process) during

late Red Dwarf:
13C + 4He --> 16O + n
21Ne + 4He --> 24Mg + n

follows Z/N stability up to mass 209

Nucleosynthesis during supernovae evolution

For massive stars

- same evolution as for small star,
up to Red Giant stage

- core contracts and heats at accelerating pace

- when T~3x109, several important element-

building processes occur:

- energetic equilibrium reactions between

n, p, and nuclei (e-process), builds up to 56Fe

- rapid addition of neutrons (r-process) builds

up to mass 254
Heavy element formation - the s and r processes

Neutron # (N)
The abundance of the elements - cosmic

- astronomers can detect different

elements with spectroscopy (large
telescopes equipped with high-resolution
The abundance of the elements - cosmic

- the models of nucleosynthesis are driven

by the observed relative abundances of
the elements in this and other galaxies

Magic numbers: 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82,126

& even is always better than odd

The abundance of the elements - our solar system

Relative composition of heavy elements in sun very similar to primordial

crust (the carbonaceous chondrite), so we assume that solar system
was well-mixed prior to differentiation.
Nuclear Physics & Radioactivity 8/26/10
What holds a nucleus together?

What drives radioactive decay?

What sets the timescale for radioactive


What happens during radioactive decay?

Lecture outline:
1) nuclear physics

2) radioactive decay

3) secular equilibrium

4) counting statistics

a particles in a cloud chamber

The Four Forces of Nature
Force Strength Range Occurrence

Strong nuclear 1 <<1/r2 (finite, v. short) inter-nucleon

Electromagnetic 10-2 1/r2 (infinite, but shielded nucleus, atom

Weak nuclear 10-13 <<1/r2 (finite, v. short) B-decay,


Gravity 10-39 1/r2 (infinite) everywhere

Four Tenets of Nuclear Physics

1) mass-energy equivalence (E=mc2)
2) wave-particle duality (particles are waves, and waves are particles)
3) conservation of energy, mass, momentum
4) symmetry
Binding energy
Lets revisit the fusion of four protons to form a 4He nucleus:
4( 11H ) 1( 24 He) 2e 2 e E
4(1.007277) 1(4.00150) m *these masses come
from the table of nuclides
m 0.02761amu
We have calculated the mass deficit --> i.e. the whole is less than sum of the parts

The mass deficit is represented by a HUGE energy release, which can be calculated
using Einsteins famous equation, E=mc2, and is usually expressed in Mev

Contributions to Binding Energy
EB = strong nuclear force binding -surface tension binding + spin pairing
+shell binding-Coulomb repulsion

1) strong nuclear force -- the more nucleons the better

2) surface tension -- the less surface/volume the better (U better than He)
3) spin pairing -- neutrons and protons have + and - spins, paired spins better
4) shell binding -- nucleus has quantized shells which prefer to be filled (magic numbers)
5) Coulomb repulsion -- packing more protons into nucleus comes at a cost (although
neutron addition will stabilize high Z nuclei)
Radioactive Decay
- a radioactive parent nuclide decays to a daughter nuclide
- the probability that a decay will occur in a unit time is defined as (units of y-1)
- the decay constant is time independent; the mean life is defined as =1/
N N N 0e t
dt t1/ 2
Number of C atoms

t1/2 = 5730y
N0 N0 / 2 N0 / 4 N0 / 8
t t t
600000 1/2 1/2 1/2

0 10000 20000 30000 40000 50000
Activity calculations
Activity N - usually reported in dpm (disintegrations per minute),
example: 14C activity = 13.56 dpm / gram C

A A0e t - because activity is linerarly proportional to number N,

then A can be substituted for N in the equation N N 0 e

Example calculation:
How many 14C disintegrations have occurred in a 1g wood sample formed in 1804AD?


t1/2 = 5730y so = 0.693/5730y = 1.209e-4 y-1

N0=A0/ so N0=(13.56dpm*60m/hr*24hr/day*365days/y) /1.209e-4= 5.90e10 atoms

N(14C)=N(14C)0*e-(1.209e-4/y)*206y = 5.75e10 atoms

# decays = N0-N = 1.5e9 decays

Four types of radioactive decay
1) alpha ( ) decay - 4He nucleus (2p + 2n) ejected
2) beta () decay - change of nucleus charge, conserves mass
3) gamma () decay - photon emission, no change in A or Z
4) spontaneous fission - for Z=92 and above, generates two smaller nuclei

95 Am 237
93 Np 4
2 He

- involves strong and coloumbic forces

- alpha particle and daughter nucleus have equal and opposite momentums
(i.e. daughter experiences recoil)
decay - three types
1) - decay
23 He e e
- converts one neutron into a proton and electron
- no change of A, but different element
- release of anti-neutrino (no charge, no mass)

2) + decay

C 115 B e e
- converts one proton into a neutron and electron
- no change of A, but different element
- release of neutrino
3) Electron capture
37 B e
Be e EC

23 He
- conversion of strong to coulombic E
- no change of A or Z (element)
- release of photon
- usually occurs in conjunction with other decay

Spontaneous fission
Fm sf
Xe 112
Pd 4n

- heavy nuclides split into two daughters

and neutrons
- U most common (fission-track dating)

Fission tracks from 238U fission in old zircon

Decay chains and secular equilibrium

- three heavy elements feed large decay chains,

where decay continues through radioactive
daughters until a stable isotope is reached 234Th

238U --> radioactive daughters --> 206Pb
Also 235U (t1/2)= 700My
And 232Th (t1/2)=10By

After ~10 half-lives, all nuclides

in a decay chain will be in secular
equilibrium, where
Activity( P) A( D1 ) A( D2 ) ...
Decay chains and secular equilibrium (cont)

Ex: N 1
where 1>>2
1 / 2 =0.1
N1 N2o=0

0.1 N2o=N1 o
sec u
N/ N1 o ( log

N2 la r e
1 N q u ilib
0.01 1 N
= ri u m
2 2

0 5 2 1 2 3 4 5
t/ 1

The approach to secular equilibrium is dictated by the intermediary,

because the parent is always decaying, and the stable daughter is
always accumulating.
Counting Statistics
Radioactive decay process behave according to binomial statistics.
For large number of decays, binomial statistics approach a perfect Gaussian.

Ex: 100 students measure 14C disintegrations in 1g of modern coral (A=13.56dpm)

with perfect geiger counters, for 10 minutes
Number of Observations





Expected value (N)


124.0 135.6 147.2

Observed # disintegrations
Since the students only counted 135.6 disintegrations, they will only achieve a 1 accuracy
of sqrt(135.6)=11.6 disintegrations . Or in relative terms, 11.6d/135.6d = 8.5%

In other words, your 1 relative error (in %) will be equal to (1/(sqrt(total counts)))*100