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Title: Influence of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on Neutron Star Properties Extracted from X-Ray Burst Model–Observation Comparisons

Abstract

We report that type-I X-ray bursts can be used to determine properties of accreting neutron stars via comparisons between model calculations and astronomical observations, exploiting the sensitivity of models to astrophysical conditions. However, the sensitivity of models to nuclear physics uncertainties calls into question the fidelity of constraints derived in this way. Using X-ray burst model calculations performed with the code MESA, we investigate the impact of uncertainties for nuclear reaction rates previously identified as influential and compare them to the impact of changes in astrophysical conditions, using the conditions that are thought to best reproduce the source GS 1826-24 as a baseline. We find that reaction rate uncertainties are unlikely to significantly change conclusions about the properties of accretion onto the neutron star surface for this source. However, we find that reaction rate uncertainties significantly hinder the possibility of extracting the neutron star mass–radius ratio by matching the modeled and observed light curves, due to the influence of reaction rates on the modeled light curve shape. Particularly influential nuclear reaction rates are 15O(α, γ) and 23Al(p, γ), though other notable impacts arise from 14O(α, p), 18Ne(α, p), 22Mg(a, p), 24Mg(α, γ), 59Cu(p, g), and 61Ga(p, γ). Additionally, we findmore » that varying some nuclear reaction rates within their uncertainties has an impact on the neutron star crust composition and thermal structure that is comparable to relatively significant changes to the accretion conditions.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Ohio Univ., Athens, OH (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Ohio Univ., Athens, OH (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Nuclear Physics (NP) (SC-26)
OSTI Identifier:
1506682
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0019042; FG02-88ER40387
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 872; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; 79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; neutron star; x-ray burst; nuclear reaction rate

Citation Formats

Meisel, Zach, Merz, Grant, and Medvid, Sophia. Influence of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on Neutron Star Properties Extracted from X-Ray Burst Model–Observation Comparisons. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aafede.
Meisel, Zach, Merz, Grant, & Medvid, Sophia. Influence of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on Neutron Star Properties Extracted from X-Ray Burst Model–Observation Comparisons. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aafede.
Meisel, Zach, Merz, Grant, and Medvid, Sophia. Wed . "Influence of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on Neutron Star Properties Extracted from X-Ray Burst Model–Observation Comparisons". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aafede.
@article{osti_1506682,
title = {Influence of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on Neutron Star Properties Extracted from X-Ray Burst Model–Observation Comparisons},
author = {Meisel, Zach and Merz, Grant and Medvid, Sophia},
abstractNote = {We report that type-I X-ray bursts can be used to determine properties of accreting neutron stars via comparisons between model calculations and astronomical observations, exploiting the sensitivity of models to astrophysical conditions. However, the sensitivity of models to nuclear physics uncertainties calls into question the fidelity of constraints derived in this way. Using X-ray burst model calculations performed with the code MESA, we investigate the impact of uncertainties for nuclear reaction rates previously identified as influential and compare them to the impact of changes in astrophysical conditions, using the conditions that are thought to best reproduce the source GS 1826-24 as a baseline. We find that reaction rate uncertainties are unlikely to significantly change conclusions about the properties of accretion onto the neutron star surface for this source. However, we find that reaction rate uncertainties significantly hinder the possibility of extracting the neutron star mass–radius ratio by matching the modeled and observed light curves, due to the influence of reaction rates on the modeled light curve shape. Particularly influential nuclear reaction rates are 15O(α, γ) and 23Al(p, γ), though other notable impacts arise from 14O(α, p), 18Ne(α, p), 22Mg(a, p), 24Mg(α, γ), 59Cu(p, g), and 61Ga(p, γ). Additionally, we find that varying some nuclear reaction rates within their uncertainties has an impact on the neutron star crust composition and thermal structure that is comparable to relatively significant changes to the accretion conditions.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/aafede},
journal = {The Astrophysical Journal (Online)},
number = 1,
volume = 872,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {2}
}

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This content will become publicly available on February 13, 2020
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