Neutrino Losses in Type i Thermonuclear X-Ray Bursts: An Improved Nuclear Energy Generation Approximation

A. J. Goodwin, A. Heger, D. K. Galloway

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Type I X-ray bursts are thermonuclear explosions on the surface of accreting neutron stars. Hydrogen rich X-ray bursts burn protons far from the line of stability and can release energy in the form of neutrinos from β-decays. We have estimated, for the first time, the neutrino fluxes of Type I bursts for a range of initial conditions based on the predictions of a 1D implicit hydrodynamics code, Kepler, which calculates the complete nuclear reaction network. We find that neutrino losses are between and 0.14 of the total energy per nucleon, depending upon the hydrogen fraction in the fuel. These values are significantly below the 35% value for neutrino losses often adopted in recent literature for the rp-process. The discrepancy arises because it is only at β-decays that of energy is lost due to neutrino emission, whereas there are no neutrino losses in and reactions. Using the total measured burst energies from Kepler for a range of initial conditions, we have determined an approximation formula for the total energy per nucleon released during an X-ray burst, where is the average hydrogen mass fraction of the ignition column, with an rms error of . We provide a detailed analysis of the nuclear energy output of a burst and find an incomplete extraction of mass excess in the burst fuel, with 14% of the mass excess in the fuel not being extracted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Number of pages7
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019


  • methods: numerical
  • stars: neutron
  • X-rays: bursts

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