Physics Colloquium: Dr. G. Wendell Misch, Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Physics Colloquium

Astromers: Nuclear Isomers with Astrophysical Consequences

Dr. G. Wendell Misch
Postdoctoral Scholar
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Astrophysics models usually take one of two approaches to nuclear reaction rates: either they use the nuclear ground state properties, or they take a thermal equilibrium distribution of excited states. Nuclear isomers---long-lived excited states---can invalidate both of these assumptions. If an isomer has a decay rate very different from the ground state rate, its inhibited transitions can cause it to fail to reach thermal equilibrium. Without thermal equilibrium or an easy path to ground, there may not be a safe assumption about the distribution of occupation probability among the nuclear levels. I will demonstrate a method to compute thermally-mediated transition rates between the ground state and long-lived isomers that allows the nucleus to be treated as two separate species: a ground state species, and an astrophysical nuclear isomer (astromer) species. I will show some examples, including the well-known astromer Al-26 (tracer of star formation), Kr-85 (s-process branch point), and likely r-process candidates.

Hosted by Prof. Surman

All interested persons are invited to attend remotely—email physics@nd.edu for information.

Originally published at physics.nd.edu.

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