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Today we understand, to reasonable accuracy, the origin of most of the abundant elements in the sun and similar Population I stars. Given our relatively primitive ability to model supernova explosion mechanisms, stellar mass loss, and stellar mixing, this is a remarkable achievement. This understanding is possible, in part, because supernovae are highly constrained by their spectra, light curves and the sorts of remnants they leave. This same understanding extends to the major abundances seen in primitive metal-poor stars down to [Fe/H] > −4. In particular, one finds no compelling evidence for exotic energies or unusual stellar properties. There are exceptions, however. About half of the isotopes above iron, the r-process and the p-process with A < 130, still have an uncertain origin, both in the sun and in metal-poor stars. The abundances in the hyper-iron-poor stars ([Fe/H] < −4) also require a special explanation. We suggest that they represent the operation of a first generation of massive stars that produced almost exclusively C, N, and O and black holes, a generation in which 100 M⊙ were abundant, but stars over about 150 M⊙ and under 30 M⊙ were almost absent.
During its early evolution, the hot, dense Universe provided a laboratory for probing fundamental physics at high energies. By studying the 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 relic, cosmic microwave photons, last scattered when the protons, alphas, and electrons (re)combined some 400 thousand years later, the evolution of the Universe may be used to test the standard models of cosmology and particle physics and to set constraints on proposals of physics beyond these standard models.
The presence of convective motions in the atmospheres of metal-poor halo stars leads to systematic asymmetries of the emergent spectral line profiles. Since such line asymmetries are very small, they can be safely ignored for standard spectroscopic abundance analysis. However, when it comes to the determination of the 6Li/7Li isotopic ratio, q(Li)=n(6Li)/n(7Li), the intrinsic asymmetry of the 7Li line must be taken into account, because its signature is essentially indistinguishable from the presence of a weak 6Li blend in the red wing of the 7Li line. In this contribution we quantity the error of the inferred 6Li/7Li isotopic ratio that arises if the convective line asymmetry is ignored in the fitting of the λ6707 Å lithium blend. Our conclusion is that 6Li/7Li ratios derived by Asplund et al. (2006), using symmetric line profiles, must be reduced by typically Δq(Li) ≈ 0.015. This diminishes the number of certain 6Li detections from 9 to 4 stars or less, casting some doubt on the existence of a 6Li plateau.
One of the key challenges for the next 10 years is to understand the first sources of light, the first stars and possibly accreting black holes. Their formation ended the cosmic dark ages at redshifts z ≃ 20 − 30, and signaled the transition from the simple initial state of the universe to one of ever increasing complexity. We here review recent progress in understanding the formation process of the first stars with numerical simulations, starting with cosmological initial conditions and modelling the detailed physics of accretion. Once formed, the first stars exerted crucial feedback on the primordial intergalactic medium, due to their input of radiation and of heavy chemical elements in the wake of supernova explosions. The current theoretical model posits that the first stars were predominantly very massive, typically ~100 M⊙. Our predictions will be tested with upcoming near-infrared observatories, such as the James Webb Space Telecope, in the decade ahead.
We review the properties of supernovae (SNe) as a function of the progenitor's mass M. (1) Mup - 10 M⊙ stars are super-AGB stars and resultant electron capture SNe may be Faint supernovae like Type IIn SN 2008S. (2) 10 - 12 M⊙ stars undergo Fe-core collapse to form neutron stars (NSs) and Faint supernovae. (3) 12 M⊙ - MBN stars undergo Fe-core collapse to form NSs and normal core-collapse supernovae. (4) MBN - 90 M⊙ stars undergo Fe-core collapse to form Black Holes. Resultant supernovae are bifurcate into Hypernovae and Faint supernovae. The observed properties of SN 2008ha can be explained with this type of Faint supernovae. (5) 90 - 140 M⊙ stars produce Luminous SNe, like SNe 2007bi and 2006gy. (6) 140 - 300 M⊙ stars become pair-instability supernovae which could be Luminous supernovae (SNe 2007bi and 2006gy). (7) Very massive stars with M ≳ 300 M⊙ undergo core-collapse to form intermediate mass black holes. Some SNe could be more Luminous supernovae (like SN 2006gy).
The first stars are key to the formation of primeval galaxies, early cosmological reionization, and the assembly of supermassive black holes. Although Population III stars lie beyond the reach of direct observation, their chemical imprint on long-lived second generation stars may yield indirect measures of their masses. While numerical models of primordial SN nucleosynthetic yields have steadily improved in recent years, they have not accounted for the chemical abundances of ancient metal-poor stars in the Galactic halo. We present new two-dimensional models of 15 - 40 M⊙ primordial SNe that capture the effect of progenitor rotation, mass, metallicity, and explosion energy on elemental yields. Rotation dramatically alter the structure of zero-metallicity stars, expanding them to much larger radii. This promotes mixing between elemental shells by the SN shock and fallback onto the central remnant, both of which govern which elements escape the star. We find that a Salpeter IMF average of our yields for Z=0 models with explosion energies of 2.4 × 1051 ergs or less is in good agreement with the abundances measured in extremely metal-poor stars. Because these stars were likely enriched by early SNe from a well-defined IMF, our models indicate that the bulk of the metals in the early universe were synthesized by low-mass primordial stars.
Neutron-capture (Z > 30) elements are detected in many very metal-poor halo stars, and so they must have been manufactured by some of the earliest element donors in our Galaxy's history. The bulk amounts of neutron-capture elements with respect to the iron group vary by several orders of magnitude from star to star at low metallicities. Additionally, abundance distributions among these elements are often strikingly different from that of the solar system. Some stars exhibit abundances that must have been made purely in “rapid” neutron-capture events (the r-process), some in “slow” events (the s-process), and some have hybrid mixes. Here we summarize the major observed categories of the neutron-capture abundances in metal-poor stars, and discuss their implications for early Galactic nucleosynthesis.
We present abundance measurements for a large number of neutron-capture elements in giant stars of the globular clusters M4, M5, and M13. The relative abundance ratios differ between all three clusters. For all clusters, we find that the mean abundances for the elements from Ba to Hf can be well explained by scaled versions of the solar s- and r-process abundances, albeit with different mixtures of s- and r-process material for each clusters.
Elements heavier than iron are produced in asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars via the slow neutron capture process (s process). Recent observations of s-process-enriched Carbon Enhanced Metal-Poor (CEMP) stars have provided an unprecedented wealth of observational constraints on the operation of the s-process in low-metallicity AGB stars. We present new preliminary full network calculations of low-metallicity AGB stars, including a comparison to the composition of a few s-process rich CEMP stars. We also discuss the possibility of using halo planetary nebulae as further probes of low-metallicity AGB nucleosynthesis.
We have been determining abundances of Th, Pb and other neutron-capture elements in metal-deficient cool giant stars to constrain the enrichment of heavy elements by the r- and s-processes. Our current sample covers the metallicity range between [Fe/H] = −2.5 and −1.0. (1) The abundance ratios of Pb/Fe and Pb/Eu of most of our stars are approximately constant, and no increase of these ratios with increasing metallicity is found. This result suggests that the Pb abundances of our sample are determined by the r-process with no or little contribution of the s-process. (2) The Th/Eu abundance ratios of our sample show no significant scatter, and the average is lower by 0.2 dex in the logarithmic scale than the solar-system value. This result indicates that the actinides production by the r-process does not show large dispersion, even though r-process models suggest high sensitivity of the actinides production to the nucleosynthesis environment.
In this study we consider the pre-enrichment of minihalos, and study the impact of metallicity on pre-collapsing minihalos by using the cosmological, N-body simulation code Enzo. The metallicities that we consider are assumed to be the result of pre-enrichment by earlier star formation. In the simulations of 10−3 and 10−1 Z⊙ we see a big difference for the collapse of the minihalo. In the high metallicity case the minihalo is more compact compared to the low metallicity case and we reach higher densities due to the efficient cooling. Also in the high metallicity case the gas cools down to lower temperatures and we see cold, dense gas which indicates a multi-phase ISM. This leads us to think that there is a transition region between metallicities of 10−3 and 10−1 Z⊙ which lowers the mass scale of the next generation of stars. Furthermore, because the gas cools more efficiently in the high metallicity case there is less pressure support against gravity and therefore we see higher velocities.
The formation of the first stars out of metal-free gas appears to result in stars at least an order of magnitude more massive than in the present-day case. We here consider what controls the transition from a primordial to a modern initial mass function. We study the influence of low levels of metal enrichment and different initial conditions on the cooling and collapse of initially ionized gas in small protogalactic halos using three-dimensional, smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations. We argue that fragmentation at moderate density depends on the initial conditions for star formation more than on the metal abundances present.
The rapid neutron-capture process (r-process), which produces some of the heaviest elements, is not well understood. Obtaining accurate abundances of these heavy elements (Z > 38) is important, both in the context of the chemical evolution of the Galaxy and for understanding the site(s) and process(es) of formation of those elements. We have determined elemental abundances for several r-process elements, notably silver, from high resolution VLT/UVES spectra. Silver was chosen because it is predominantly a light r-process element (38 < Z < 50), and little is known about its formation and evolution in the Galaxy. Here, we present our preliminary results.
Although the first stars were likely very hot and luminous, their low or zero metallicity implies that any mass loss through winds driven by line-scattering of radiation in metal ions was likely small or non-existent. Here we examine the potential role of another possible mechanism for mass loss in these first stars, namely via decretion disks associated with near-critical rotation induced from evolution of the stellar interior. In this case the mass loss is set by the angular momentum needed to keep the stellar rotation at or below the critical rate. In present evolutionary models, that mass loss is estimated by assuming effective release from a spherical shell at the surface. Here we examine the potentially important role of viscous coupling of the decretion disk in outward angular momentum transport, emphasizing that the specific angular momentum at the outer edge of the disk can be much larger than at the stellar surface. The net result is that, for a given stellar interior angular momentum excess, the mass loss required from a decretion disk can be significantly less than invoked in previous models assuming a direct, near-surface release.
We present Li abundances for 73 stars in the metallicity range −3.5 < [Fe/H] < −1.0 using improved IRFM temperatures (Casagrande et al. 2009) with precise E(B-V) values obtained mostly from interstellar NaI D lines, and high-quality equivalent widths (σEW ~ 3%). At all metallicities we uncover a fine-structure in the Li abundances of Spite plateau stars, which we trace to Li depletion that depends on both metallicity and mass. Models including atomic diffusion and turbulent mixing seem to reproduce the observed Li depletion assuming a primordial Li abundance ALi = 2.64 dex (MARCS models) or 2.72 (Kurucz overshooting models), in good agreement with current predictions (ALi = 2.72) from standard BBN.
We present the largest sample available to date of lithium abundances in extremely metal poor (EMP) Halo dwarfs. Four Teff estimators are used, including IRFM and Hα wings fitting against 3D hydrodynamical synthetic profiles. Lithium abundances are computed by means of 1D and 3D-hydrodynamical NLTE computations. Below [Fe/H]~−3, a strong positive correlation of A(Li) with [Fe/H] appears, not influenced by the choice of the Teff estimator. A linear fit finds a slope of about 0.30 dex in A(Li) per dex in [Fe/H], significant to 2–3 σ, and consistent within 1 σ among all the Teff estimators. The scatter in A(Li) increases significantly below [Fe/H]~−3. Above, the plateau lies at 〈A(Li)3D, NLTE〉 = 2.199 ± 0.086. If the primordial A(Li) is the one derived from standard Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN), it appears difficult to envision a single depletion phenomenon producing a thin, metallicity independent plateau above [Fe/H] = −2.8, and a highly scattered, metallicity dependent distribution below.
We have performed deep high-dispersion spectroscopy to examine enhancement of s-process elements in the exremely metal-poor ([Ar/H]~−2.1) halo planetary nebulae H4-1 and BoBn1 using the 8.2-m Subaru telescope/High-Dispersion Spectrograph (HDS). We have detected several emission lines of s-process elements in H4-1 and BoBn1, and we have found that the enhancement of heavy s-process elements in these objects is comparable with that in s-process enhanced CEMP stars with [Fe/H]>−2.5. The C- and N-rich abundances of H4-1 and BoBn1 might be explained by binary evolution models. We have detected 5 fluorine lines in BoBn1. The re-estimated F abundance using these lines is [F/H]=+1.4±0.1.
The cosmic microwave background and the cosmic expansion can be interpreted as evidence that the Universe underwent an extremely hot and dense phase about 14 Gyr ago. The nucleosynthesis computations tell us that the Universe emerged from this state with a very simple chemical composition: H, 2H, 3He, 4He, and traces of 7Li. All other nuclei where synthesised at later times. Our stellar evolution models tell us that, if a low-mass star with this composition had been created (a “zero-metal” star) at that time, it would still be shining on the Main Sequence today. Over the last 40 years there have been many efforts to detect such primordial stars but none has so-far been found. The lowest metallicity stars known have a metal content, Z, which is of the order of 10−4Z⊙. These are also the lowest metallicity objects known in the Universe. This seems to support the theories of star formation which predict that only high mass stars could form with a primordial composition and require a minimum metallicity to allow the formation of low-mass stars. Yet, since absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, we cannot exclude the existence of such low-mass zero-metal stars, at present. If we have not found the first Galactic stars, as a by product of our searches we have found their direct descendants, stars of extremely low metallicity (Z ≤ 10−3Z⊙). The chemical composition of such stars contains indirect information on the nature of the stars responsible for the nucleosynthesis of the metals. Such a fossil record allows us a glimpse of the Galaxy at a look-back time equivalent to redshift z = 10, or larger. The last ten years have been full of exciting discoveries in this field, which I will try to review in this contribution.
We explore the general characteristics of extremely metal-poor (EMP) stars in the Galaxy using the Stellar Abundances for Galactic Archaeology (SAGA) database (Suda et al. 2008, PASJ, 60, 1159). The overall trend of EMP stars suggests that there are at least two types of extra mixing to change the surface abundances of EMP stars. One is to deplete lithium abundance during the early phase of giant branch and another is to decrease C/N ratio by one order of magnitude during the red giant branch or AGB phase. On the other hand, these mixing processes are different from those suggested in the Galactic globular clusters because of the different relations between O, Na, Mg, and Al abundances.