Production of very light elements in kilonovae

A. Perego, D. Vescovi, A. Fiore, S. Benetti, S. Bernuzzi, M. Branchesi, S. Cristallo, E. Cappellaro, D. Radice.


We study the production of light elements (Z<20) in the ejecta of binary neutron star mergers by combining detailed nucleosynthesis calculations with the outcome of numerical relativity merger simulations. We explore different microphysical equations of state and binary mass ratios, and find that hydrogen and helium are the most abundant light elements. For both elements, the decay of free neutrons is the driving nuclear reaction. Hydrogen is produced in extremely fast expanding ejecta while helium is synthesized in association with heavy r-process elements. By computing synthetic spectra, we find that the possibility of detecting hydrogen and helium features in kilonova spectra is very unlikely.