Differences between stellar and laboratory reaction cross sections
Nuclear reactions proceed differently in stellar plasmas than in the laboratory due to the thermal effects in the plasma. On one hand, a target nucleus is bombarded by projectiles distributed in energy with a distribution defined by the plasma temperature. The mostly relevant energies are low by nuclear physics standards and thus require an improved description of low-energy properties, such as optical potentials, required for the calculation of reaction cross sections. Recent studies of low-energy cross sections suggest the necessity of a modification of the proton optical potential. On the other hand, target nuclei are in thermal equilibrium with the plasma and this modifies their reaction cross sections. It is generally expected that this modification is larger for endothermic reactions. We show that there is a large number of exceptions to this rule.