Experimental measurements of the 15O(alpha,gamma)19Ne reaction rate and the stability of thermonuclear burning on accreting neutron stars

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Neutron stars in close binary star systems often accrete matter from their companion stars. Thermonuclear ignition of the accreted material in the atmosphere of the neutron star leads to a thermonuclear explosion which is observed as an X-ray burst occurring periodically between hours and days depending on the accretion rate. The ignition conditions are characterized by a sensitive interplay between the accretion rate of the fuel supply and its depletion rate by nuclear burning in the hot CNO cycle and the rp-process. For accretion rates close to stable burning the burst ignition therefore depends critically on the hot CNO breakout ... continued below

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Fisker, J; Tan, W; Goerres, J; Wiescher, M & Cooper, R May 8, 2007.

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Neutron stars in close binary star systems often accrete matter from their companion stars. Thermonuclear ignition of the accreted material in the atmosphere of the neutron star leads to a thermonuclear explosion which is observed as an X-ray burst occurring periodically between hours and days depending on the accretion rate. The ignition conditions are characterized by a sensitive interplay between the accretion rate of the fuel supply and its depletion rate by nuclear burning in the hot CNO cycle and the rp-process. For accretion rates close to stable burning the burst ignition therefore depends critically on the hot CNO breakout reaction {sup 15}O({alpha}, {gamma}){sup 19}Ne that regulates the flow between the hot CNO cycle and the rapid proton capture process. Until recently, the {sup 15}O({alpha}, {gamma}){sup 19}Ne reaction rate was not known experimentally and the theoretical estimates carried significant uncertainties. In this paper we perform a parameter study of the uncertainty of this reaction rate and determine the astrophysical consequences of the first measurement of this reaction rate. Our results corroborate earlier predictions and show that theoretically burning remains unstable up to accretion rates near the Eddington limit, in contrast to astronomical observations.

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PDF-file: 10 pages; size: 0.3 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal, vol. 665, n/a, August 10, 2007, pp. 637; Journal Volume: 665

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-230876
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 919621
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc900392

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  • May 8, 2007

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 8, 2016, 7:13 p.m.

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Fisker, J; Tan, W; Goerres, J; Wiescher, M & Cooper, R. Experimental measurements of the 15O(alpha,gamma)19Ne reaction rate and the stability of thermonuclear burning on accreting neutron stars, article, May 8, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc900392/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.