Spallation-altered Accreted Compositions for X-Ray Bursts: Impact on Ignition Conditions and Burst Ashes
Model predictions of X-ray burst ashes and light curves depend on the composition of the material accreted from the companion star, in particular the abundance of CNO elements. It has previously been pointed out that spallation in the atmosphere of the accreting neutron star can destroy heavy elements efficiently. In this work we study this spallation using a realistic reaction network that follows the complete spallation cascade and takes into account not only destruction, but also production of elements by the spallation of heavier species. We find an increased survival probability of heavier elements compared to previous studies, resulting in significantly higher CNO abundances. We provide resulting compositions as a function of accretion rate, and explore their impact on 1D multi-zone X-ray burst models. We find significant changes in the composition of the burst ashes, which will affect the thermal and compositional structure of accreted neutron star crusts.