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Measurements yielded precise atomic masses for nuclear reactions in the stars

In her doctoral thesis in the field of nuclear physics at the University of Jyväskylä, M. Sc. Laetitia Canete has precisely measured the atomic masses of the radioactive isotope of six elements.

University of Jyväskylä - Jyväskylän yliopisto

Our body and the matter around us is composed of chemical elements mainly created in stars via nuclear reactions and complex nuclear reaction networks. To understand these processes, we need to know properties of participating nuclei, such as their masses.

In her doctoral thesis in the field of nuclear physics at the University of Jyväskylä, M. Sc. Laetitia Canete has precisely measured the atomic masses of the radioactive isotope of six elements. The measurement data can be used to better model different astrophysical processes.

Nuclear reactions make the Sun shine and play a central role in the chemical evolution of the cosmos. Our body and the matter around us is composed of chemical elements mainly created in stars via nuclear reactions and complex nuclear reaction networks. To understand these processes, we need to know properties of participating nuclei, such as their masses. Here precision matters as even a tiny change in the nuclear mass can have a significant impact on reaction rates and finally on the abundances of produced elements.

In a doctoral thesis in the field of nuclear physics at the University of Jyväskylä, M. Sc. Laetitia Canete has measured the atomic masses of the radioactive isotope of six elements. The measurement data can be used to better model different space processes.

In the JYFL Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä, stable ion beams from the K-130 cyclotron are used to produce nuclei relevant for nuclear astrophysics by impinging them into a thin target foil at the IGISOL (Ion Guide Isotope Separator On-Line ) facility. The produced radioactive isotopes are transported into the JYFLTRAP double Penning trap mass spectrometer where their atomic mass values are determined with a precision of around 10 ppb. During her PhD, Laetitia Canete measured masses of six radioactive nuclei, 25Al, 30P, 31Cl, 67Fe, 69Co and 70Co.

The measurements are relevant for various astrophysical problems. The production of the observed cosmic 1809-keV g-rays originating from 26Al can be bypassed by proton captures on 25Al. The proton-capture rate, and thus the amount of produced 1809-keV g-rays, is affected by the mass of 25Al. The mass of 30P is important for constraining the proton-capture rate on 30P(p,g)31S controlling the production of elements heavier than sulphur in novae. The mass of 31Cl plays a role in type I X-ray bursts, and is also important for understanding fundamental properties of the nuclear force between protons and neutrons. The masses of 67Fe, 69Co and 70Co play a role in the rapid neutron capture process producing around half of the elements heavier than iron.

Laetitia Canete completed her Master degree in subatomic physics and astrophysics at the University Lyon 1, France, in 2014. She entered at the Department of Physics of the University of Jyväskylä in summer 2014 and started her doctoral studies within the IGISOL group in the Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä.

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The dissertation "High precision mass measurements for nuclear astrophysics" is published in JYU dissertations series, University of Jyväskylä, 2019, ISSN 2489-9003; 64 ISBN: 978-951-39-7693-4

More information:

Coctoral Student Laetitia Canete, laetitia.l.canete@student.jyu.fi

Communications Officer Tanja Heikkinen, tanja.s.heikkinen@jyu.fi, tel. +358 50 581 8351

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