Simulating neutron star mergers as r-process sources in ultrafaint dwarf galaxies

Mohammadtaher Safarzadeh, Evan Scannapieco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


To explain the high observed abundances of r-process elements in local ultrafaint dwarf (UFD) galaxies, we perform cosmological zoom simulations that include r-process production from neutron star mergers (NSMs). We model star formation stochastically and simulate two different haloes with total masses ≈108M at z = 6. We find that the final distribution of [Eu/H] versus [Fe/H] is relatively insensitive to the energy by which the r-process material is ejected into the interstellar medium, but strongly sensitive to the environment in which the NSM event occurs. In one halo, the NSM event takes place at the centre of the stellar distribution, leading to high levels of r-process enrichment such as seen in a local UFD, Reticulum II (Ret II). In a second halo, the NSM event takes place outside of the densest part of the galaxy, leading to a more extended r-process distribution. The subsequent star formation occurs in an interstellar medium with shallow levels of r-process enrichment that results in stars with low levels of [Eu/H] compared to Ret II stars even when the maximum possible r-process mass is assumed to be ejected. This suggests that the natal kicks of neutron stars may also play an important role in determining the r-process abundances in UFD galaxies, a topic that warrants further theoretical investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2088-2096
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Galaxies: dwarf.
  • Stars: abundances
  • Stars: neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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