Experimental approaches to nuclear reactions involved in explosive stellar binaries

J. C. Blackmon, ORNL Physics Division
C. Angulo, Université Catholique de Louvain
A. C. Shotter, TRIUMF


Explosive stellar environments such as novae and X-ray bursts are currently among the most exciting topics in nuclear astrophysics. Reactions on unstable nuclei play a crucial role in energy generation and nucleosynthesis due to the high temperatures and short reaction time scales in these events, but substantial uncertainties exist in nuclear reaction rates on unstable nuclei resulting from limited experimental data. In recent years some remarkable developments in radioactive ion beam production and experimental techniques have allowed many key reaction rates to be experimentally determined with reasonable accuracy for the first time. In this paper we review experimental methods that have recently been exploited to study reactions important in explosive binaries, highlight some key examples of recent results, and outline remaining experimental challenges. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.