Sensitivity of neutron-rich nuclear isomer behavior to uncertainties in direct transitions
G. W. Misch, T. M. Sprouse, M. Mumpower, A. J. Couture, C. L. Fryer, B. S. Meyer, Y. Sun
Published Symmetry 13 1831 (2021)
Nuclear isomers are populated in the rapid neutron capture process (r process) of nucleosynthesis. The r process may cover a wide range of temperatures, potentially starting from several tens of GK (several MeV) and then cooling as material is ejected from the event. As the r-process environment cools, isomers can freeze out of thermal equilibrium or be directly populated as astrophysical isomers (astromers). Two key behaviors of astromers -- ground state<->isomer transition rates and thermalization temperatures -- are determined by direct transition rates between pairs of nuclear states. We perform a sensitivity study to constrain the effects of unknown transitions on astromer behavior. We also introduce a categorization of astromers that describes their potential effects in hot environments. We provide a table of neutron-rich isomers that includes the astromer type, thermalization temperature, and key unmeasured transition rates.