Gamma-ray spectroscopy measurements for nuclear reactions in novae
Lotay, Gavin James
The 23Mg(pγ)24Al and 26Al(pγ)27Si astrophysical reactions are expected to be of considerable importance in the nucleosynthesis of A≥20 nuclei in classical novae. Previous studies have indicated that both reactions are dominated by resonant capture to excited states, above the proton-emission thresholds, in the proton-rich nuclei 24Al and 27Si, respectively. Consequently, by determining the nuclear properties of such resonant states it is possible to estimate the 23Mg(pγ)24Al and 26Al(pγ)27Si stellar reaction rates. In this thesis work, excited states in 24Al and 27Si were populated via the 10B(16O, 2n) and 12C(16O, n) heavy-ion fusion-evaporation reactions, respectively. The beams of 16O ions were produced by the Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System and prompt electromagnetic radiation was detected using the GAMMASPHERE detector array, which, in the case of the 24Al experiment, was used in coincidence with recoil selection provided by the Argonne Fragment Mass Analyzer. The two γray spectroscopy studies performed in this work allowed level structure determinations below the respective proton-emission thresholds of 24Al and 27Si nuclei, with improved precision on previous work. In addition to this, these studies also allowed a determination of the nuclear properties of proton-unbound astrophysically important γ decaying states, which, in turn, were used to re-evaluate the 23Mg(pγ)24Al and 26Al(pγ)27Si stellar reaction rates. The improved precision of the level energies and unambiguous assignments of resonant states has reduced the relative uncertainties in both the 23Mg(pγ)24Al and 26Al(pγ)27Si stellar reaction rates, constraining the production of A≥20 nuclei in classical novae.