The effects of thermonuclear reaction-rate variations on nova nucleosynthesis: A sensitivity study

Christian Iliadis, Art Champagne, Jordi José, Sumner Starrfield, Paul Tupper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


We investigate the effects of thermonuclear reaction-rate uncertainties on nova nucleosynthesis. One-zone nucleosynthesis calculations have been performed by adopting temperature-density-time profiles of the hottest hydrogen-burning zone (i.e., the region in which most of the nucleosynthesis takes place). We obtain our profiles from seven different, recently published, hydrodynamic nova simulations covering peak temperatures in the range from Tpeak = 0.145 to 0.418 GK. For each of these profiles, we individually varied the rates of 175 reactions within their associated errors and analyzed the resulting abundance changes of 142 isotopes in the mass range below A = 40. In total, we performed ≈7350 nuclear reaction network calculations. We use the most recent thermonuclear reaction-rate evaluations for the mass ranges A = 1-20 and 20-40. For the theoretical astrophysicist, our results indicate the extent to which nova nucleosynthesis calculations depend on currently uncertain nuclear physics input, while for the experimental nuclear physicist, our results represent at least a qualitative guide for future measurements at stable and radioactive ion beam facilities. We find that present reaction-rate estimates are reliable for predictions of Li, Be, C, and N abundances in nova nucleosynthesis. However, rate uncertainties of several reactions have to be reduced significantly in order to predict more reliable O, F, Ne, Na, Mg, Al, Si, S, Cl, and Ar abundances. Results are presented in tabular form for each adopted nova simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-137
Number of pages33
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Novae, cataclysmic variables
  • Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
  • Stars: Abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of thermonuclear reaction-rate variations on nova nucleosynthesis: A sensitivity study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this