The Impact of Nuclear Reaction Rate Uncertainties on the Evolution of Core-collapse Supernova Progenitors

C. E. Fields, Francis Timmes, R. Farmer, I. Petermann, William M. Wolf, S. M. Couch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We explore properties of core-collapse supernova progenitors with respect to the composite uncertainties in the thermonuclear reaction rates by coupling the probability density functions of the reaction rates provided by the STARLIB reaction rate library with MESA stellar models. We evolve 1000 models of 15 from the pre-main sequence to core O-depletion at solar and subsolar metallicities for a total of 2000 Monte Carlo stellar models. For each stellar model, we independently and simultaneously sample 665 thermonuclear reaction rates and use them in a MESA in situ reaction network that follows 127 isotopes from 1H to 64Zn. With this framework we survey the core mass, burning lifetime, composition, and structural properties at five different evolutionary epochs. At each epoch we measure the probability distribution function of the variations of each property and calculate Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients for each sampled reaction rate to identify which reaction rate has the largest impact on the variations on each property. We find that uncertainties in the reaction rates of , triple-α, , 12C(12C,p)23Na, 12C(16O, p)27Al, 16O(16O,n)31S, 16O(16O, p)31P, and 16O(16O,α)28Si dominate the variations of the properties surveyed. We find that variations induced by uncertainties in nuclear reaction rates grow with each passing phase of evolution, and at core H-, He-depletion they are of comparable magnitude to the variations induced by choices of mass resolution and network resolution. However, at core C-, Ne-, and O-depletion, the reaction rate uncertainties can dominate the variation, causing uncertainty in various properties of the stellar model in the evolution toward iron core-collapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • stars: abundances
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: interiors
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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