Dependence of X-Ray Burst Models on Nuclear Reaction Rates
X-ray bursts are thermonuclear flashes on the surface of accreting neutron stars, and reliable burst models are needed to interpret observations in terms of properties of the neutron star and the binary system. We investigate the dependence of X-ray burst models on uncertainties in (p, γ), (α, γ), and (α, p) nuclear reaction rates using fully self-consistent burst models that account for the feedbacks between changes in nuclear energy generation and changes in astrophysical conditions. A two-step approach first identified sensitive nuclear reaction rates in a single-zone model with ignition conditions chosen to match calculations with a state-of-the-art 1D multi-zone model based on the Kepler stellar evolution code. All relevant reaction rates on neutron-deficient isotopes up to mass 106 were individually varied by a factor of 100 up and down. Calculations of the 84 changes in reaction rate with the highest impact were then repeated in the 1D multi-zone model. We find a number of uncertain reaction rates that affect predictions of light curves and burst ashes significantly. The results provide insights into the nuclear processes that shape observables from X-ray bursts, and guidance for future nuclear physics work to reduce nuclear uncertainties in X-ray burst models.
Physics & Astronomy
Link to OA full text
Cyburt, R. H.; Amthor, Alan M.; Heger, A.; Johnson, E.; Keek, L.; Meisel, Z.; Schatz, H.; and Smith, K.. "Dependence of X-Ray Burst Models on Nuclear Reaction Rates." (2016) : 55.