Volume 414, Number 3, February II 2004
|Page(s)||931 - 942|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters, and populations|
|Published online||27 January 2004|
The evolution of the C/O ratio in metal-poor halo stars*
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, AP 70-264, DF 04510, México e-mail: email@example.com
3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter Road, Weston, ACT 2611, Australia e-mail: email@example.com
Corresponding author: C. J. Akerman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 11 October 2003
We report new measurements of carbon and oxygen abundances in 34 F and G dwarf and subgiant stars belonging to the halo population and spanning a range of metallicity from [Fe/H] to -3.2 . The survey is based on observations of four permitted lines of near 9100 Å and the triplet, all recorded at high signal-to-noise ratios with the UVES echelle spectrograph on the ESO VLT. The line equivalent widths were analysed with the 1D, LTE, MARCS model atmosphere code to deduce C and O abundances; corrections due to non-LTE and 3D effects are discussed. When combined with similar published data for disk stars, our results confirm the metallicity dependence of the C/O ratio known from previous stellar and interstellar studies: C/O drops by a factor of ~3–4 as O/H decreases from solar to ~1/10 solar. Analysed within the context of standard models for the chemical evolution of the solar vicinity, this drop results from the metallicity dependence of the C yields from massive stars with mass loss, augmented by the delayed release of C from stars of low and intermediate mass. The former is, however, always the dominant factor. Our survey has also uncovered tentative evidence to suggest that, as the oxygen abundance decreases below [O/H] , [C/O] may not remain constant at [C/O] , as previously thought, but increase again, possibly approaching near-solar values at the lowest metallicities ([O/H] ). With the current dataset this is no more than a 3σ effect and it may be due to metallicity-dependent non-LTE corrections to the [C/O] ratio which have not been taken into account. However, its potential importance as a window on the nucleosynthesis by Population III stars is a strong incentive for future work, both observational and theoretical, to verify its reality.
Key words: stars: abundances / Galaxy: abundances / Galaxy: evolution / Galaxy: halo
© ESO, 2004
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