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University of Tennessee | Department of Physics and Astronomy | Theoretical Astrophysic Group

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Nucleosynthesis in Novae and X-ray Bursts

We have study nova nucleosynthesis, collaborating with S. Starrfield (AZ State) in modeling novae. An article has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal detailing a series of simulations using nuclear datasets prepared by C. Iliadis (UNC) that illustrate the impact that recent reaction rate measurements have on nova outburst modeling. In addition to factor of 2-3 differences in the abundances of key nuclear species thought to result from novae, the progression of reaction rate improvements has also resulted in generally weaker outbursts, especially for the most massive white dwarves. In the process of this study, Starrfield and Hix discovered that the pep reaction, though contained in the nuclear data used in previous simulations, was effectively ignored in Starrfield’s prior simulations (as well as those of other groups). Simulations including the pep reaction result in larger nuclear energy generation during the accretion phase and thus a smaller accreted envelope prior to explosion and reduced ejecta. This also results in factor of 2 changes in the predicted abundances of gamma-ray emitting species and other heavier nuclei.