The core of a massive star collapses towards the end of its evolution. Such stars end their life in a supernova (SN) explosion. Dust formed in the ejecta of a SN contains freshly produced (radio-) nuclides and is entrained in the SN shell, which expands rapidly into the surrounding interstellar medium (ISM). A SN envelope in the vicinity of our solar system will intercept the Earth and may leave traces.
This project will search for supernova-produced nuclides to tackle the fundamental questions 'how were the heavy elements made' we observe on Earth today; where do galactic cosmic rays originate, and do supernovae produce the heavy elements in the r process? We will search for radionuclides trapped in cosmic dust particles entering the solar system and deposited over millions of years on Earth. Our focus is on anomalies in long-lived radionuclides. Their isotopic fingerprint mirrors on-going nucleosynthesis in massive stars and the galactic chemical evolution. We will refine the capabilities for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) for measuring these nuclides at ultra-low concentrations utilizing the world-highest particle energies in AMS.