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  1. Abstract

    The observation of X-rays during quiescence from transiently accreting neutron stars provides unique clues about the nature of dense matter. This, however, requires extensive modeling of the crusts and matching the results to observations. The pycnonuclear fusion reaction rates implemented in these models are theoretically calculated by extending phenomenological expressions and have large uncertainties spanning many orders of magnitude. We present the first sensitivity studies of these pycnonuclear fusion reactions in realistic network calculations. We also couple the reaction network with the thermal evolution codedStarto further study their impact on the neutron star cooling curves in quiescence. Varying the pycnonuclear fusion reaction rates alters the depth at which nuclear heat is deposited although the total heating remains constant. The enhancement of the pycnonuclear fusion reaction rates leads to an overall shallower deposition of nuclear heat. The impurity factors are also altered depending on the type of ashes deposited on the crust. These total changes correspond to a variation of up to 9 eV in the modeled cooling curves. While this is not sufficient to explain the shallow heat source, it is comparable to the observational uncertainties and can still be important for modeling the neutron star crust.

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