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Keywords:

  • Galaxy: abundances;
  • Galaxy: evolution;
  • nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances;
  • stars: Population II

Abstract

The abundances of heavy elements in EMP stars are not well explained by the simple view of an initial basic “rapid” process. In a careful and homogeneous analysis of the “First Stars” sample (eighty per cent of the stars have a metallicity [Fe/H] ≃ –3.1 ± 0.4), it has been shown that at this metallicity [Eu/Ba] is constant, and therefore the europium-rich stars (generally called “r-rich”) are also Ba-rich. The very large variation of [Ba/Fe] (existence of “r-poor” and “r-rich” stars) induces that the early matter was not perfectly mixed. On the other hand, the distribution of the values of [Sr/Ba] vs. [Ba/Fe] appears with well defined upper and lower envelopes. No star was found with [Sr/Ba] < –0.5 and the scatter of [Sr/Ba] increases regularly when [Ba/Fe] decreases. To explain this behavior, we suggest that an early “additional” process forming mainly first peak elements would affect the initial composition of the matter. For a same quantity of accreted matter, this additional Sr production would barely affect the r-rich matter (which already contains an important quantity of Sr) but would change significantly the composition of the r-poor matter. The abundances found in the CEMP-r+s stars reflect the transfer of heavy elements from a defunct AGB companion. But the abundances of the heavy elements in CEMP-no stars present the same characteristics as the the abundances in the EMP stars. Direct stellar ages may be found from radioactive elements, the precision is limited by the precision in the measurements of abundances from faint lines in faint stars, and the uncertainty in the initial abundances of the radioactive elements. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)