Improved Limit on Direct α Decay of the Hoyle State
Journal article, 2012
The current evaluation of the triple-α reaction rate assumes that the α decay of the 7.65 MeV, 0+ state in 12C, commonly known as the Hoyle state, proceeds sequentially via the ground state of 8Be. This assumption is challenged by the recent identification of two direct α-decay branches with a combined branching ratio of 17(5)%. If correct, this would imply a corresponding reduction in the triple-α reaction rate with important astrophysical consequences. We have used the 11B(3He,d) reaction to populate the Hoyle state and measured the decay to three α particles in complete kinematics. We find no evidence for direct α-decay branches, and hence our data do not support a revision of the triple-α reaction rate. We obtain an upper limit of 5×10-3 on the direct α decay of the Hoyle state at 95% C.L., which is 1 order of magnitude better than a previous upper limit.