Nuclear thermometers for classical novae

Lori Downen, Christian Iliadis, Jordi José, Sumner Starrfield

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Classical novae are interesting phenomena that occur in binary systems containing a white dwarf and a main sequence (or Red Giant) companion. The resulting thermonuclear runaway can reach peak temperatures of several hundred million kelvin. Additionally, this explosion can display strong spectral lines of neon in the ejecta if the core of the white dwarf in this system consists of mainly neon and oxygen, leading these explosions to be termed "neon novae." For this work, the relationship between elemental abundances and the peak temperature during neon nova outbursts was explored, and this relationship was further investigated to determine any dependence on uncertain nuclear physics data. Four new hydrodynamic models of neon nova were developed, allowing for the determination of eight elemental abundance ratios that can be used as "nova thermometers": N/O, N/Al, O/S, S/Al, O/Na, Na/Al, O/P, and P/Al. Using a post-processing reaction network, it was determined that N/O, N/Al, O/Na, and Na/Al had little dependence on uncertain rate information, introducing only <30% variation in abundance ratio. The remaining thermometers, O/S, S/Al, O/P, and P/Al, showed a steeper dependence on peak temperature but were strongly dependent on the uncertain 30P(p, γ) 31S rate. Updated observed nova abundances were compiled and qualitatively compared to several nova thermometers. It was determined that several nova thermometers would benefit significantly from renewed efforts to reliably observe ejecta abundances and precisely quantify the 30P(p,γ) 31S reaction rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of Science
StatePublished - 2012
Event12th International Symposium on Nuclei in the Cosmos, NIC 2012 - Cairns, QLD, Australia
Duration: Aug 5 2012Aug 12 2012


Other12th International Symposium on Nuclei in the Cosmos, NIC 2012
CityCairns, QLD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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