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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Jan 18;110(3):032502. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

Is γ-ray emission from novae affected by interference effects in the 18F(p,α)15O reaction?

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of York, York, United Kingdom. alison.laird@york.ac.uk


The (18)F(p,α)(15)O reaction rate is crucial for constraining model predictions of the γ-ray observable radioisotope (18)F produced in novae. The determination of this rate is challenging due to particular features of the level scheme of the compound nucleus, (19)Ne, which result in interference effects potentially playing a significant role. The dominant uncertainty in this rate arises from interference between J(π)=3/2(+) states near the proton threshold (S(p)=6.411 MeV) and a broad J(π)=3/2(+) state at 665 keV above threshold. This unknown interference term results in up to a factor of 40 uncertainty in the astrophysical S-factor at nova temperatures. Here we report a new measurement of states in this energy region using the (19)F((3)He,t)(19)Ne reaction. In stark contrast to previous assumptions we find at least 3 resonances between the proton threshold and E(cm)=50 keV, all with different angular distributions. None of these are consistent with J(π)=3/2(+) angular distributions. We find that the main uncertainty now arises from the unknown proton width of the 48 keV resonance, not from possible interference effects. Hydrodynamic nova model calculations performed indicate that this unknown width affects (18)F production by at least a factor of two in the model considered.

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