The role of nuclear physics in supernovae and the evolution of neutron stars, Neutrino Opacities, Equation of State, Transport Coefficients, and Dark Matter Production
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A massive star, of at least eight solar masses, end their life cycle in a sudden, catastrophic collapse under its own gravity. In a thousandth of a second, it can shrink from thousands of kilometers across to a ball of ultra-condensed matter just a few kilometers across. Ultimately, it all ends in a cataclysmic explosion known as a supernova, and for a few short weeks it burns as brightly as several billion suns, briefly outshining the star's entire home galaxy. The visible light of a supernova, though, represents only about 1\% of the released energy, the vast majority being in the form of ultraviolet light, x-rays, gamma rays and, especially neutrinos. In the first chapter of work, I study neutrino - nucleon interactions and their role in the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements. Another key ingredient is the equation of state, which relates the thermodynamic properties of these extreme environments to the micro physics of nuclear interactions, explored in the second chapter. As a supernova cools, a new neutron star is born. The thermal, electric properties and the shear viscosity of this object are analyzed in terms of a newly discovered interaction, among electrons and neutrons, in the third chapter. Given the enormous amount of energy released during the explosion, I study the possibility of producing light massive particles, candidates for what is commonly called dark matter, in the last chapter of this work. I find that supernovae are ideal environments where the interplay of all forces in nature can be observed, nuclear forces playing a paramount role.
- Physics