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Journal Article

Mass Measurement of 56Sc Reveals a Small A = 56 Odd-Even Mass Staggering, Implying a Cooler Accreted Neutron Star Crust


George,  Sebastian
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University;
Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, Michigan State University;
Division Prof. Dr. Klaus Blaum, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Meisel, Z., George, S., Ahn, S., Bazin, D., Brown, B., Browne, J., et al. (2015). Mass Measurement of 56Sc Reveals a Small A = 56 Odd-Even Mass Staggering, Implying a Cooler Accreted Neutron Star Crust. Physical Review Letters, 115(16): 162501. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.162501.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-F002-3
We present the mass excesses of 52-57Sc, obtained from recent time-of-flight nuclear mass measurements at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University. The masses of 56Sc and 57Sc were determined for the first time with atomic mass excesses of -24.85(59)(+0 -54) MeV and -21.0(1.3) MeV, respectively, where the asymmetric uncertainty for 56Sc was included due to possible contamination from a long-lived isomer. The 56Sc mass indicates a small odd-even mass staggering in the A = 56 mass-chain towards the neutron drip line, significantly deviating from trends predicted by the global FRDM mass model and favoring trends predicted by the UNEDF0 and UNEDF1 density functional calculations. Together with new shell-model calculations of the electron-capture strength function of 56Sc, our results strongly reduce uncertainties in model calculations of the heating and cooling at the 56Ti electron-capture layer in the outer crust of accreting neutron stars. We found that, in contrast to previous studies, neither strong neutrino cooling nor strong heating occurs in this layer. We conclude that Urca cooling in the outer crusts of accreting neutron stars that exhibit superbursts or high temperature steady-state burning, which are predicted to be rich in A=56 nuclei, is considerably weaker than predicted. Urca cooling must instead be dominated by electron capture on the small amounts of adjacent odd-A nuclei contained in the superburst and high temperature steady-state burning ashes. This may explain the absence of strong crust Urca cooling inferred from the observed cooling light curve of the transiently accreting x-ray source MAXI J0556-332.