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Origin of stardust unveiled by the new LUNA rate of the 17O(p,α)14N reaction

Lugaro, M.; Karakas, A. I.; Bruno, C. G.; Aliotta, M.; Nittler, L. R.; Bemmerer, D.; Best, A.; Boeltzig, A.; Broggini, C.; Caciolli, A.; Cavanna, F.; Ciani, G. F.; Corvisiero, P.; Davinson, T.; Depalo, R.; Di Leva, A.; Elekes, Z.; Ferraro, F.; Formicola, A.; Fülöp, Z.; Gervino, G.; Guglielmetti, A.; Gyürky, C. G. G.; Imbriani, G.; Junker, M.; Menegazzo, R.; Mossa, V.; Pantaleo, F. R.; Piatti, D.; Prati, P.; Scott, D. A.; Straniero, O.; Strieder, F.; Szücs, T.; Takács, M. P.; Trezzi, D.

Stardust grains recovered from meteorites provide high-precision snapshots of the isotopic compositions resulting from nuclear reactions in the stars in which they formed. Establishing their stellar sites of origin, however, often proves difficult. One long-standing problem is that a large fraction of meteoritic stardust is predicted to have originated from the late evolutionary phase of stars with initial mass between roughly 4 and 8 solar masses, however, no grains have been found with an isotopic composition that matches that expected in these stars. This problem points to serious gaps in our understanding of the lifecycle of stars and dust in the Galaxy. Here we show that the new, increased rate of the 17O + p → 14N + α nuclear reaction, based on a recent underground experiment, produces 17O/16O isotopic ratios that match those observed in a population of stardust grains, provided that the burning occurs at relatively high temperatures (60–80 million K). These are the temperatures achieved at the base of the convective envelope during the late evolutionary phase of 4 to 8 solar mass stars, which reveals them as the site of origin of the grains. This result provides the first direct evidence that these stars contributed to the dust inventory from which the Solar System formed.

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Publ.-Id: 24066