Origin of Plutonium-244 in the Early Solar SystemOPEN ACCESS 

Maria Lugaro, Andrés Yagüe López, Benjámin Soós, Benoit Côté, Mária Pető, Nicole Vassh, Benjamin Wehmeyer, Marco Pignatari

Universe 2022, 8(7), 343
Published: 22 June 2022


“We investigate the origin in the early Solar System of the short-lived radionuclide 244Pu (with a half life of 80 Myr) produced by the rapid (r) neutron-capture process. We consider two large sets of r-process nucleosynthesis models and analyse if the origin of 244Pu in the ESS is consistent with that of the other r and slow (s) neutron-capture process radioactive nuclei. Uncertainties on the r-process models come from both the nuclear physics input and the astrophysical site. The former strongly affects the ratios of isotopes of close mass (129I/127I, 244Pu/238U, and 247Pu/235U). The 129I/247Cm ratio, instead, which involves isotopes of a very different mass, is much more variable than those listed above and is more affected by the physics of the astrophysical site. We consider possible scenarios for the evolution of the abundances of these radioactive nuclei in the galactic interstellar medium and verify under which scenarios and conditions solutions can be found for the origin of 244Pu that are consistent with the origin of the other isotopes. Solutions are generally found for all the possible different regimes controlled by the interval (δ) between additions from the source to the parcel of interstellar medium gas that ended up in the Solar System, relative to decay timescales. If r-process ejecta in interstellar medium are mixed within a relatively small area (leading to a long δ), we derive that the last event that explains the 129I and 247Cm abundances in the early Solar System can also account for the abundance of 244Pu. Due to its longer half life, however, 244Pu may have originated from a few events instead of one only. If r-process ejecta in interstellar medium are mixed within a relatively large area (leading to a short δ), we derive that the time elapsed from the formation of the molecular cloud to the formation of the Sun was 9-16 Myr. “