Halo Star Lithium Depletion
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Publisher:American Astronomical Society
Citation:M. H. Pinsonneault et al, "Halo Star Lithium Depletion," The Astrophysical Journal 527, no. 1 (1999), doi:10.1086/308048
The depletion of lithium during the pre-main-sequence and main-sequence phases of stellar evolution plays a crucial role in the comparison of the predictions of big bang nucleosynthesis with the abundances observed in halo stars. Previous work has indicated a wide range of possible depletion factors, ranging from minimal in standard (nonrotating) stellar models to as much as an order of magnitude in models that include rotational mixing. Recent progress in the study of the angular momentum evolution of low-mass stars permits the construction of theoretical models capable of reproducing the angular momentum evolution of low-mass open cluster stars. The distribution of initial angular momenta can be inferred from stellar rotation data in young open clusters. In this paper we report on the application of these models to the study of lithium depletion in main-sequence halo stars. A range of initial angular momenta produces a range of lithium depletion factors on the main sequence. Using the distribution of initial conditions inferred from young open clusters leads to a well-defined halo lithium plateau with modest scatter and a small population of outliers. The mass-dependent angular momentum loss law inferred from open cluster studies produces a nearly flat plateau, unlike previous models that exhibited a downward curvature for hotter temperatures in the ^7Li-T_eff plane. The overall depletion factor for the plateau stars is sensitive primarily to the solar initial angular momentum used in the calibration for the mixing diffusion coefficients. Uncertainties remain in the treatment of the internal angular momentum transport in the models, and the potential impact of these uncertainties on our results is discussed. The ^6Li/^7Li depletion ratio is also examined. We find that the dispersion in the plateau and the ^6Li/^7Li depletion ratio scale with the absolute ^7Li depletion in the plateau, and we use observational data to set bounds on the ^7Li depletion in main-sequence halo stars. A maximum of 0.4 dex depletion is set by the observed dispersion and ^6Li/^7Li depletion ratio, and a minimum of 0.2 dex depletion is required by both the presence of highly overdepleted halo stars and consistency with the solar and open cluster ^7Li data. The cosmological implications of these bounds on the primordial abundance of ^7Li are discussed.
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