Asteroidscomets

New Hubble Space Telescope Observations of Heavy Elements in Four Metal-Poor Stars

December 2012 • 2012ApJS..203...27R

Authors • Roederer, Ian U. • Lawler, James E. • Sobeck, Jennifer S. • Beers, Timothy C. • Cowan, John J. • Frebel, Anna • Ivans, Inese I. • Schatz, Hendrik • Sneden, Christopher • Thompson, Ian B.

Abstract • Elements heavier than the iron group are found in nearly all halo stars. A substantial number of these elements, key to understanding neutron-capture nucleosynthesis mechanisms, can only be detected in the near-ultraviolet. We report the results of an observing campaign using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope to study the detailed heavy-element abundance patterns in four metal-poor stars. We derive abundances or upper limits from 27 absorption lines of 15 elements produced by neutron-capture reactions, including seven elements (germanium, cadmium, tellurium, lutetium, osmium, platinum, and gold) that can only be detected in the near-ultraviolet. We also examine 202 heavy-element absorption lines in ground-based optical spectra obtained with the Magellan Inamori Kyocera Echelle Spectrograph on the Magellan-Clay Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory and the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer on the Keck I Telescope on Mauna Kea. We have detected up to 34 elements heavier than zinc. The bulk of the heavy elements in these four stars are produced by r-process nucleosynthesis. These observations affirm earlier results suggesting that the tellurium found in metal-poor halo stars with moderate amounts of r-process material scales with the rare earth and third r-process peak elements. Cadmium often follows the abundances of the neighboring elements palladium and silver. We identify several sources of systematic uncertainty that must be considered when comparing these abundances with theoretical predictions. We also present new isotope shift and hyperfine structure component patterns for Lu II and Pb I lines of astrophysical interest.

Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with programs 8111 and 12268. This paper includes data gathered with the 6.5 m Magellan Telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation.

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IPAC Authors
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Jennifer Sobek

Associate Scientist