Volume 638, June 2020
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||17 June 2020|
Protostellar accretion in low mass metal poor stars and the cosmological lithium problem
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Pisa, Largo Bruno Pontecorvo 3, 56127 Pisa, Italy
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 INFN – Sezione di Pisa, Largo Bruno Pontecorvo 3, 56127 Pisa, Italy
3 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, 146 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
4 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico d’Abruzzo, Via M. Maggini, 64100 Teramo, Italy
Accepted: 23 April 2020
Context. The cosmological lithium problem, that is, the discrepancy between the lithium abundance predicted by the Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the one observed for the stars of the “Spite plateau”, is one of the long standing problems of modern astrophysics. Recent hints for a possible solution involve lithium burning induced by protostellar mass accretion on Spite plateau stars. However, to date, most of the protostellar and pre-main sequence stellar models that take mass accretion into account have been computed at solar metallicity, and a detailed analysis on the impact of protostellar accretion on the lithium evolution in the metal-poor regime, which is relevant for stars in the Spite plateau, is completely missing.
Aims. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap, analysing, in detail, for the first time the effect of protostellar accretion on low metallicity low-mass stars with a focus on pre-main sequence lithium evolution.
Methods. We computed the evolution from the protostar to the main-sequence phase of accreting models with final masses equal to 0.7 and 0.8 M⊙, and three metallicities Z = 0.0001, Z = 0.0010, and Z = 0.0050, corresponding to [Fe/H] ∼ −2.1, −1.1 (typical of Spite plateau stars), and [Fe/H] ∼ −0.42, respectively. We followed the temporal evolution of the chemical composition by considering nuclear burning, convective mixing, and diffusion. The effects of changing some of the main parameters affecting accreting models, that is the accretion energy (i.e. cold versus hot accretion), the initial seed mass Mseed and radius Rseed, and the mass accretion rate ṁ (also considering episodic accretion), have been investigated in detail.
Results. As for the main stellar properties and in particular the surface 7Li abundance, hot accretion models converge to standard non-accreting ones within 1 Myr, regardless of the actual value of Mseed, Rseed, and ṁ. Also, cold accretion models with a relatively large Mseed (≳10 MJ) or Rseed (≳1 R⊙) converge to standard non-accreting ones in less than about 10−20 Myr. However, a drastically different evolution occurs whenever a cold protostellar accretion process starts from small values of Mseed and Rseed (Mseed ∼ 1 MJ, Rseed ≲ 1 R⊙). These models almost entirely skip the standard Hayashi track evolution and deplete lithium before the end of the accretion phase. The exact amount of depletion depends on the actual combination of the accretion parameters (ṁ, Mseed, and Rseed), achieving in some cases the complete exhaustion of lithium in the whole star. Finally, the lithium evolution in models accounting for burst accretion episodes or for an initial hot accretion followed by a cold accretion phase closely resemble that of standard non-accreting ones.
Conclusions. To significantly deplete lithium in low-mass metal poor stars by means of protostellar accretion, a cold accretion scenario starting from small initial Mseed and Rseed is required. Even in this extreme configuration leading to a non-standard evolution that misses almost entirely the standard Hayashi track, an unsatisfactory fine tuning of the parameters governing the accretion phase is required to deplete lithium in stars of different mass and metallicity – starting from the Big Bang nucleosynthesis abundance – in such a way as to produce the observed Spite plateau.
Key words: stars: abundances / stars: evolution / stars: formation / stars: pre-main sequence / stars: protostars
© ESO 2020
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