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This essay attempts to provide a historical perspective on some of the key questions that engaged the attention of participants at the symposium. In particular, the writer offers and comments on a personal list of milestones in the literature published between 1957 and 1982.
I will give a review of the current constrains on light element abundances from cosmic microwave background experiments, focusing on results from WMAP and discussing prospects from upcoming data from Planck and ground-based experiments. I will describe how the production of light elements affects the CMB anisotropies, and how we use the data to extract cosmological information that includes constraints on the baryon density, and primordial abundances.
During its early evolution the Universe provided a laboratory to probe fundamental physics at high energies. Relics from those early epochs, such as the light elements synthesized during primordial nucleosynthesis when the Universe was only a few minutes old, and the cosmic background photons, last scattered when the protons (and alphas) and electrons (re)combined some 400 thousand years later, may be used to probe the standard models of cosmology and of particle physics. The internal consistency of primordial nucleosynthesis is tested by comparing the predicted and observed abundances of the light elements, and the consistency of the standard models is explored by comparing the values of the cosmological parameters inferred from primordial nucleosynthesis with those determined by studying the cosmic background radiation.
In this proceeding I briefly discuss the possibility of relic decaying or annihilating particles to explain the cosmological 7Li anomaly and/or to be the source of significant amounts of pre-galactic 6Li. The effect of relic massive charged particles through catalysis of nuclear reactions is also discussed. The possibility of a connection of the 7Li problem to the cosmic dark matter and physics beyond the standard model of particle physics, such as supersymmetry, is noted.
We study effects of relic long-lived strongly interacting massive particles (X particles) on big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN). The X particle is assumed to have existed during the BBN epoch, but decayed long before detected. The interaction strength between an X and a nucleon is assumed to be similar to that between nucleons. Rates of nuclear reactions and beta decay of X-nuclei are calculated, and the BBN in the presence of neutral charged X0 particles is calculated taking account of captures of X0 by nuclei. As a result, the X0 particles form bound states with normal nuclei during a relatively early epoch of BBN leading to the production of heavy elements. Constraints on the abundance of X0 are derived from observations of primordial light element abundances. Particle models which predict long-lived colored particles with lifetimes longer than ~200 s are rejected. This scenario prefers the production of 9Be and 10B. There might, therefore, remain a signature of the X particle on primordial abundances of those elements. Possible signatures left on light element abundances expected in four different models are summarized.
We investigate nucleosynthesis and element formation in the early universe in the framework of higher dimensional cosmology. We find that temperature decays less rapidly in higher dimensional cosmology, which we believe may have nontrivial consequences vis-a-vis primordial physics.
Analyses of FUSE spacecraft spectra have provided measurements of D/H in the gas phase of the interstellar medium for many lines of sight extending to several kpc from the Sun. These measurements, together with the earlier Copernicus, HST, and IMAPS data, show a wide range of D/H values that have challenged both observers and chemical evolution modellers. I believe that the best explanation for the diverse D/H measurements is that deuterium can be sequestered on to carbonaceous grains and PAH molecules and thereby removed from the interstellar gas. Grain destruction can raise the gas phase D/H value to approximately the total D/H value. Supernovae and stellar winds, however, can decrease the total D/H value along lines of sight on time scales less than mixing time scales. I will summarize the theoretical and observational arguments for this model and estimate the most likely range for the total D/H in the local Galactic disk. This range in total D/H presents a constraint on realistic Galactic chemical evolution models or the primordial value of D/H or both.
The ionization balances for HI, OI and DI being locked together by charge exchange, the deuterium-to-oxygen ratio is considered to be a good proxy for the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio, in particular within the interstellar medium. As the DI and OI column densities are of similar orders of magnitude for a given sight line, comparisons of the two values are generally less subject to systematic errors than comparisons of DI and HI. Moreover, D/O is additionally sensitive to astration, because as stars destroy deuterium, they should produce oxygen. D/O measurements are now available for tens of lines of sight in the interstellar medium, most of them from FUSE observations. The D/H and D/O ratios show different pictures, D/H being clearly more dispersed than D/O. The low, homogeneous D/O ratio measured on distant lines of sight suggests a deuterium abundance representative of the present epoch that is about two times lower than this measured within the local interstellar medium.
Deuterium has a special place in cosmology, nuclear astrophysics, and galactic chemical evolution, because of its unique property that it is only created in the big bang nucleosynthesis while all other processes result in its net destruction. For this reason, among other things, deuterium abundance measurements in the interstellar medium (ISM) allow us to determine the fraction of interstellar gas that has been cycled through stars, and set constraints and learn about different Galactic chemical evolution (GCE) models. However, recent indications that deuterium might be preferentially depleted onto dust grains complicate our understanding about the meaning of measured ISM deuterium abundances. For this reason, recent estimates by Linsky et al. (2006) have yielded a lower bound to the “true”, undepleted, ISM deuterium abundance that is very close to the primordial abundance, indicating a small deuterium astration factor contrary to the demands of many GCE models. To avoid any prejudice about deuterium dust depletion along different lines of sight that are used to determine the “true” D abundance, we propose a model-independent, statistical Bayesian method to address this issue and determine in a model-independent manner the undepleted ISM D abundance. We find the best estimate for the gas-phase ISM deuterium abundance to be (D/H)ISM ≥ (2.0 ± 0.1) × 10−5. Presented are the results of Prodanović et al. (2009).
For our understanding of the origin and evolution of baryonic matter in the Universe, the Protosolar Cloud (PSC) is of unique importance in two ways: 1) Up to now, many of the naturally occurring nuclides have only been detected in the solar system. 2) Since the time of solar system formation, the Sun and planets have been virtually isolated from the galactic nuclear evolution, and thus the PSC is a galactic sample with a degree of evolution intermediate between the Big Bang and the present.
The abundances of the isotopes of hydrogen and helium in the Protosolar Cloud are primarily derived from composition measurements in the solar wind, the Jovian atmosphere and “planetary noble gases” in meteorites, and also from observations of density profiles inside the Sun. After applying the changes in isotopic and elemental composition resulting from processes in the solar wind, the Sun and Jupiter, PSC abundances of the four lightest stable nuclides are given.
The cosmic abundance of the 3He isotope has important implications for many fields of astrophysics. We are using the 8.665 GHz hyperfine transition of 3He+ to determine the 3He/H abundance in Milky Way H ii regions and planetary nebulae. Here we review the 30 year history of our 3He program, report on its current status, and describe our future plans.
We present a review on the determination of the primordial helium abundance Yp, based on the study of hydrogen and helium recombination lines in extragalactic H ii regions. We also discuss the observational determinations of the increase of helium to the increase of oxygen by mass ΔY/ΔO, and compare them with predictions based on models of galactic chemical evolution.
Accurate measurements of the 4He/H abundance ratio are important in constraining Big Bang nucleosynthesis, models of stellar and Galactic evolution, and H ii region physics. We discuss observations of radio recombination lines using the Green Bank Telescope toward a small sample of H ii regions and planetary nebulae. We report 4He/H abundance ratio differences as high as 15–20% between optical and ratio data that are difficult to reconcile. Using the H ii regions S206 and M17 we determine 4He production in the Galaxy to be dY/dZ = 1.71 ± 0.86.
We determine the primordial helium mass fraction Yp using 1700 spectra of low-metallicity extragalactic H ii regions. This sample is selected from the Data Release 7 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, from European Southern Observatory archival data and from our own observations. We have considered known systematic effects which may affect the 4He abundance determination. They include collisional and fluorescent enhancements of He i recombination lines, underlying He i and hydrogen stellar absorption lines, collisional excitation of hydrogen lines, temperature and ionization structure of the H ii region. Monte Carlo methods are used to solve simultaneously the above systematic effects. We find a primordial helium mass fraction Yp = 0.2512 ± 0.0006(stat.) ± 0.0020 (syst.). This value is higher than the value given by Standard Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (SBBN) theory. If confirmed, it would imply slight deviations from SBBN.
Efforts to determine the primordial helium abundance via observations of metal poor HII regions have been limited by significant uncertainties. Because of a degeneracy between the solutions for density and temperature, the precision of the helium abundance determinations is limited. Spectra from the literature are used to show the effects of new atomic data and to demonstrate the challenges of determining precise He abundances. Several suggestions are made for meeting these challenges.
There is compelling observational evidence that globular clusters (GCs) are quite complex objects. A growing body of photometric results indicate that the evolutionary sequences are not simply isochrones in the observational plane -as believed until a few years ago- from the main sequence, to the subgiant, giant, and horizontal branches. The strongest indication of complexity comes however from the chemistry, from internal dispersion in iron abundance in a few cases, and in light elements (C, N, O, Na, Mg, Al, etc.) in all GCs. This universality means that the complexity is intrinsic to the GCs and is most probably related to their formation mechanisms. The extent of the variations in light elements abundances is dependent on the GC mass, but mass is not the only modulating factor; metallicity, age, and possibly orbit can play a role. Finally, one of the many consequences of this new way of looking at GCs is that their stars may show different He contents.
For nearby K dwarfs, the broadening of the observed Main Sequence at low metallicities is much narrower than expected from isochrones with the standard helium–to–metal enrichment ratio ΔY/ΔZ~2. A much higher value, of order 10, is formally needed to reproduce the observed broadening, but it returns helium abundances in awkward contrast with Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. This steep enrichment ratio resembles, on a milder scale, the very high ΔY/ΔZ estimated from the multiple Main Sequences observed in some metal-poor Globular Clusters. We argue that a revision of low Main Sequence stellar models, suggested from nearby stars, could help to reduce the overwhelmingly high ΔY/ΔZ deduced so far for those clusters. Under the most favourable assumptions, the estimated helium content for the enriched populations may decrease from Y ≃ 0.4 to as low as Y ≃ 0.3, with intermediate values being plausible.
Globular clusters exhibit peculiar chemical patterns where Fe and heavy elements are constant inside a given cluster while light elements (Li to Al) show strong star-to-star variations. This pattern can be explained by self-pollution of the intracluster gas by the slow winds of fast rotating massive stars. Besides, several main sequences have been observed in several globular clusters which can be understood only with different stellar populations with distinct He content. Here we explore how these He abundances can constrain the self-enrichment in globular clusters.
We show that the peculiar surface abundance patterns of Carbon Enhanced Metal Poor (CEMP) stars has been inherited from material having been processed by H- and He-burning phases in a previous generation of stars (hereafter called the “Source Stars”). In this previous generation, some mixing must have occurred between the He- and the H-burning regions in order to explain the high observed abundances of nitrogen. In addition, it is necessary to postulate that a very small fraction of the carbon-oxygen core has been expelled (either by winds or by the supernova explosion). Therefore only the outermost layers should have been released by the Source Stars. Some of the CEMP stars may be He-rich if the matter from the Source Star is not too much diluted with the InterStellar Medium (ISM). Those stars formed from nearly pure ejecta would also be Li-poor.