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Title: Effect of nuclear reactions rates and core boundary mixing on the seismology of red clump stars
Context: Modeling of the stars in the red clump (RC), that is, core helium-burning stars that have gone through a He flash, is challenging because of the uncertainties associated with the physical processes in their core and during the helium flash. By probing the internal stellar structure, asteroseismology allows us to constrain the core properties of RC stars and eventually, to improve our understanding of this evolutionary phase. Aims: We aim to quantify the impact on the seismic properties of the RC stars of the two main core modeling uncertainties: core boundary mixing, and helium-burning nuclear reaction rates. Methods: Using the MESA stellar evolution code, we computed models with different core boundary mixing as well as different 3α and 12C(alpha, gamma)16O nuclear reaction rates. We investigated the impact of these parameters on the period spacing ΔΠ, which is a probe of the region around the core. Results: We find that different core boundary mixing schemes yield significantly different period spacings, with differences of 30 s between the maximum ΔΠ value computed with semiconvection and maximal overshoot. We show that an increased rate of 12C(alpha, gamma)16O lengthens the core helium-burning phase, which extends the range of ΔΠ covered by the models during their evolution. This results in a difference of 10 s between the models computed with a nominal rate and a rate multiplied by 2, which exceeds the observational uncertainties. The effect of changing the 3α reaction rate is comparatively small. Conclusions. The core boundary mixing is the main source of uncertainty in the seismic modeling of RC stars. Moreover, the effect of the 12C(alpha, gamma)16O is non-negligible, even though it is difficult to distinguish from the effect of the mixing. This degeneracy could be seen more frequently in the future in the new seismic data from the PLATO mission and through theoretical constraints from numerical simulations.  more » « less
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EDP Sciences
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Astronomy & Astrophysics
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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