Volume 530, June 2011
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||13 May 2011|
Implications of a non-universal IMF from C, N, and O abundances in very metal-poor Galactic stars and damped Lyα absorbers
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Mitaka, 181-8588 Tokyo, Japan
2 ICRAR, M468, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley Western Australia 6009, Australia
Received: 26 November 2010
Accepted: 14 February 2011
Recently revealed C, N, and O abundances in the most metal-poor damped Lyα (DLA) absorbers are compared with those of extremely metal-poor stars in the Galactic halo, as well as extragalactic H II regions, to decipher nucleosynthesis and chemical enrichment in the early Universe. These comparisons surprisingly identify a relatively high C/O ratio and a low N/O ratio in DLA systems, which is hard to explain theoretically. We propose that if these features are confirmed by future studies, this effect occurs because the initial mass function in metal-poor DLA systems has a cut-off at the upper mass end at around 20–25 M⊙, thus lacks the massive stars that provide the nucleosynthesis products leading to the low C/O and high N/O ratios. This finding is a reasonable explanation of the nature of DLA systems in which a sufficient amount of cold H I gas remains intact because of the suppression of ionization by massive stars. In addition, our claim strongly supports a high production rate of N in very massive stars, which might be acceptable in light of the recent nucleosynthesis calculations with fast rotation models. The updates of both abundance data and nucleosynthesis results will strengthen our novel proposition that the C/O and N/O abundances are a powerful tool for inferring the form of the initial mass function.
Key words: stars: abundances / galaxies: abundances / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: ISM
© ESO, 2011
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