The impact of (n, γ) reaction rate uncertainties of unstable isotopes near N = 50 on the i-process nucleosynthesis in He-shell flash white dwarfs

Pavel Denissenkov, Georgios Perdikakis, Falk Herwig, Hendrik Schatz, Christian Ritter, Marco Pignatari, Samuel Jones, Stylianos Nikas, Artemis Spyrou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The first-peak s-process elements Rb, Sr, Y and Zr in the post-AGB star Sakurai's object (V4334 Sagittarii) have been proposed to be the result of i-process nucleosynthesis in a post-AGB very-late thermal pulse event. We estimate the nuclear physics uncertainties in the i-process model predictions to determine whether the remaining discrepancies with observations are significant and point to potential issues with the underlying astrophysical model. We find that the dominant source in the nuclear physics uncertainties are predictions of neutron capture rates on unstable neutron rich nuclei, which can have uncertainties of more than a factor 20 in the band of the i-process. We use a Monte Carlo variation of 52 neutron capture rates and a 1D multi-zone post-processing model for the i-process in Sakurai's object to determine the cumulative effect of these uncertainties on the final elemental abundance predictions. We find that the nuclear physics uncertainties are large and comparable to observational errors. Within these uncertainties the model predictions are consistent with observations. A correlation analysis of the results of our MC simulations reveals that the strongest impact on the predicted abundances of Rb, Sr, Y and Zr is made by the uncertainties in the (n, γ) reaction rates of 85Br, 86Br, 87Kr, 88Kr, 89Kr, 89Rb, 89Sr, and 92Sr. This conclusion is supported by a series of multi-zone simulations in which we increased and decreased to their maximum and minimum limits one or two reaction rates per run. We also show that simple and fast one-zone simulations should not be used instead of more realistic multi-zone stellar simulations for nuclear sensitivity and uncertainty studies of convective-reactive processes. Our findings apply more generally to any i-process site with similar neutron exposure, such as rapidly accreting white dwarfs with near-solar metallicities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number055203
JournalJournal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 13 2018


  • nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis
  • stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • stars: abundances


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