Journal Article

The effect of <sup>12</sup>C +<sup>12</sup>C rate uncertainties on the evolution and nucleosynthesis of massive stars

M. E. Bennett, R. Hirschi, M. Pignatari, S. Diehl, C. Fryer, F. Herwig, A. Hungerford, K. Nomoto, G. Rockefeller, F. X. Timmes and M. Wiescher

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 420, issue 4, pages 3047-3070
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The effect of 12C +12C rate uncertainties on the evolution and nucleosynthesis of massive stars

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Over the last 40 years, the 12C +12C fusion reaction has been the subject of considerable experimental efforts to constrain uncertainties at temperatures relevant for stellar nucleosynthesis. Recent studies have indicated that the reaction rate may be higher than that currently used in stellar models. In order to investigate the effect of an enhanced carbon-burning rate on massive star structure and nucleosynthesis, new stellar evolution models and their yields are presented exploring the impact of three different 12C +12C reaction rates. Non-rotating stellar models considering five different initial masses, 15, 20, 25, 32 and 60 M, at solar metallicity, were generated using the Geneva Stellar Evolution Code (genec) and were later post-processed with the NuGrid Multi-zone Post-Processing Network tool (mppnp). A dynamic nuclear reaction network of ∼1100 isotopes was used to track the s-process nucleosynthesis. An enhanced 12C +12C reaction rate causes core carbon burning to be ignited more promptly and at lower temperature. This reduces the neutrino losses, which increases the core carbon-burning lifetime. An increased carbon-burning rate also increases the upper initial mass limit for which a star exhibits a convective carbon core (rather than a radiative one). Carbon-shell burning is also affected, with fewer convective-shell episodes and convection zones that tend to be larger in mass. Consequently, the chance of an overlap between the ashes of carbon-core burning and the following carbon shell convection zones is increased, which can cause a portion of the ashes of carbon-core burning to be included in the carbon shell. Therefore, during the supernova explosion, the ejecta will be enriched by s-process nuclides synthesized from the carbon-core s-process. The yields were used to estimate the weak s-process component in order to compare with the Solar system abundance distribution. The enhanced rate models were found to produce a significant proportion of Kr, Sr, Y, Zr, Mo, Ru, Pd and Cd in the weak component, which is primarily the signature of the carbon-core s-process. Consequently, it is shown that the production of isotopes in the Kr–Sr region can be used to constrain the 12C +12C rate using the current branching ratio for α- and p-exit channels.

Keywords: nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances; stars: abundances; stars: evolution

Journal Article.  15790 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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