Improved precision on the experimental E0 decay branching ratio of the Hoyle state

T. K. Eriksen, T. Kibédi*, M. W. Reed, A. E. Stuchbery, K. J. Cook, A. Akber, B. Alshahrani, A. A. Avaa, K. Banerjee, A. C. Berriman, L. T. Bezzina, L. Bignell, J. Buete, I. P. Carter, B. J. Coombes, J. T.H. Dowie, M. Dasgupta, L. J. Evitts, A. B. Garnsworthy, M. S.M. GerathyT. J. Gray, D. J. Hinde, T. H. Hoang, S. S. Hota, E. Ideguchi, P. Jones, G. J. Lane, B. P. McCormick, A. J. Mitchell, N. Palalani, T. Palazzo, M. Ripper, E. C. Simpson, J. Smallcombe, B. M.A. Swinton-Bland, T. Tanaka, T. G. Tornyi, M. O. De Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Stellar carbon synthesis occurs exclusively via the 3α process, in which three α particles fuse to form C12 in the excited Hoyle state, followed by electromagnetic decay to the ground state. The Hoyle state is above the α threshold, and the rate of stellar carbon production depends on the radiative width of this state. The radiative width cannot be measured directly, and must instead be deduced by combining three separately measured quantities. One of these quantities is the E0 decay branching ratio of the Hoyle state, and the current 10% uncertainty on the radiative width stems mainly from the uncertainty on this ratio. The rate of the 3α process is an important input parameter in astrophysical calculations on stellar evolution, and a high precision is imperative to constrain the possible outcomes of astrophysical models. Purpose: To deduce a new, more precise value for the E0 decay branching ratio of the Hoyle state. Method: The E0 branching ratio was deduced from a series of pair conversion measurements of the E0 and E2 transitions depopulating the 02+ Hoyle state and 21+ state in C12, respectively. The excited states were populated by the C12(p,p′) reaction at 10.5 MeV beam energy, and the pairs were detected with the electron-positron pair spectrometer, Super-e, at the Australian National University. The deduced branching ratio required knowledge of the proton population of the two states, as well as the alignment of the 21+ state in the reaction. For this purpose, proton scattering and γ-ray angular distribution experiments were also performed. Results: An E0 branching ratio of ΓπE0/Γ=8.2(5)×10-6 was deduced in the current work, and an adopted value of ΓπE0/Γ=7.6(4)×10-6 is recommended based on a weighted average of previous literature values and the new result. Conclusions: The new recommended value for the E0 branching ratio is about 14% larger than the previous adopted value of ΓπE0/Γ=6.7(6)×10-6, while the uncertainty has been reduced from 9% to 5%. The new result reduces the radiative width, and hence 3α reaction rate, by 11% relative to the adopted value, and the uncertainty to 6.1%. This reduction in width and increased precision is likely to constrain possible outcomes of astrophysical calculations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number024320
    JournalPhysical Review C
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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