Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties and the 22Ne(p,γ)23Na Reaction: Classical Novae and Globular Clusters Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Kelly, Keegan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • The overall theme of this thesis is the advancement of nuclear astrophysics via the analysis of stellar processes in the presence of varying levels of precision in the available nuclear data. With regard to classical novae, the level of mixing that occurs between the outer layers of the white dwarf core and the solar accreted material in oxygen-neon novae is presently undetermined by stellar models, but the nuclear data relevant to these explosive phenomena are fairly precise. This precision allowed for the identification of a series of elemental ratios indicative of the level of mixing occurring in novae. Direct comparisons of the modelled elemental ratios to observations showed that there is likely to be much less of this mixing than was previously assumed. Thus, our understanding of classical novae was altered via the investigation of the nuclear reactions relevant to this phenomenon. However, this level of experimental precision is rare and large nuclear reaction uncertainties can hinder our understanding of certain astrophysical phenomena. For example, it is commonly believed that uncertainties in the 22Ne(p,g)23Na reaction rate at temperatures relevant to thermally-pulsing asymptotic giant branch stars are largely responsible for our inability to explain the observed sodium-oxygen anti-correlation in globular clusters. With this motivation, resonances in the 22Ne(p,g)23Na reaction at E_{c.m.} = 458, 417, 178, and 151 keV were measured. The direct-capture contribution was also measured at E_{lab} = 425 keV. It was determined that the 22Ne(p,g)23Na reaction rate in the astrophysically relevant temperature range is dominated by the resonances at 178 and 151 keV and that the total reaction rate is greater than the previously assumed rate by a factor of approximately 40 at 0.15 GK. This increased reaction rate impacts the expected nucleosynthesis that occurs in these stars and will shed light onto the origin of this anti-correlation as it is incorporated into sophisticated stellar models in the future. In both of these cases the available nuclear data were used to probe stellar processes. This analysis of stellar processes through nuclear reactions is an extremely useful technique that is crucial for the advancement of astrophysics.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Clegg, Thomas
  • Heitsch, Fabian
  • Champagne, Arthur
  • Law, Nicholas
  • Iliadis, Christian
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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