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The 14N(p,γ)O15 reaction studied at low and high beam energy
Marta, M.
Abstract: The Bethe-Weizsäcker cycle consists of a set of nuclear reactions that convert hydrogen into helium and release energy in the stars. It determines the luminosity of low-metal stars at their turn-off from the main-sequence in the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram, so its rate enters the calculation of the globular clusters’ age, an independent lower limit on the age of the universe. The cycle contributes less than 1% to our Sun’s luminosity, but it produces neutrinos that can in principle be measured on Earth in underground experiments and bring direct information of the physical conditions in the solar core, provided that the nuclear reaction rate is known with sufficient precision.
The 14N(p,γ)15O reaction is the slowest reaction of the Bethe-Weizs¨acker cycle and establishes its rate. Its cross section is the sum of the contributions by capture to different excited levels and to the ground state in 15O. Recent experiments studied the region of the resonance at Ep = 278 keV. Only one modern data set from an experiment performed in 1987 is available for the high-energy domain. Both energy ranges are needed to constrain the fit of the excitation function in the R-matrix framework and to obtain a reliable extrapolated S-factor at the very low astrophysical energies.
The present research work studied the 14N(p,γ)15O reaction in the LUNA (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics) underground facility at three proton energies 0.36, 0.38, 0.40MeV, and in Dresden in the energy range Ep = 0.6 - 2MeV. In both cases, an intense proton beam was sent on solid titanium nitride sputtered targets, and the prompt photons emitted from the reaction were detected with germanium detectors.
At LUNA, a composite germanium detector was used. This enabled a measurement with dramatically reduced summing corrections with respect to previous studies. The cross sections for capture to the ground state and to the excited states at 5181, 6172, and 6792 keV in 15O have been determined. An R-matrix fit was performed for capture to the ground state, that resolved the literature discrepancy of a factor two on the extrapolated S-factor. New precise branching ratios for the decay of the Ep = 278 keV resonance were measured.
In Dresden, the strength of the Ep = 1058 keV resonance was measured relative to the well-known resonance at Ep = 278 keV, after checking the angular distribution. Its uncertainty is now half of the error quoted in literature. The branching ratios were also measured, showing that their recommended values should be updated. Preliminary data for the two most intense transitions off resonance are provided.
The presence in the targets of the other stable nitrogen isotope 15N with its well- known isotopic abundance, allowed to measure the strength of two resonances at Ep = 430 and 897 keV of the 15N(p,αγ)12 C reaction, improving the precision for hydrogen depth profiling.
Keywords: Nuclear astrophysics; CNO cycle; TiN solid target; Tandetron; LUNA; Clover detector
  • Open Access LogoWissenschaftlich-Technische Berichte / Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf; HZDR-019 2012
    ISSN: 2191-8708


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