Stellar neutron capture rates and the s process
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Campus North, Institute of Nuclear Physics, 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
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Neutron reactions are responsible for the formation of the elements heavier than iron. The corresponding scenarios relate to helium burning in Red Giant stars (s process) and to supernova explosions (r and p processes). The s process, which operates in or near the valley of β-stability, has produced about half of the elemental abundances between Fe and Bi. Accurate (n, γ) cross sections are the essential input for s process studies, because they determine the abundances produced by that process. Following a brief summary of the neutron capture processes, the focus will be set on the s process in massive stars, where the role of reliable cross section information is particularly important. Eventually, the intriguing aspects of the origin of 60Fe will be addressed. Attempts to determine the stellar cross section of that isotope are pushing experimental possibilities to their limits and present a pertinent challenge for future facilities.
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