Abundances and Evolution of Lithium in the Galactic Halo and Disk

Sean G. Ryan, T. Kajino, T.C. Beers, T.K. Suzuki, D. Romano, F. Matteucci, K. Rosolankova

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We have measured the Li abundance of 18 stars with [2[[Fe/H][[1 and 6000[Teff[6400 K, a parameter range that was poorly represented in previous studies. We examine the Galactic chemical evolution (GCE) of this element, combining these data with previous samples of turnoff stars over the full range of halo metallicities. We find that A(Li) increases from a level of D2.10 at [Fe/H]\[3.5 to D2.40 at [Fe/H]\[1.0, where A(Li)\log We compare the observations with 10 (n(Li)/n(H))]12.00. several GCE calculations, including existing one-zone models and a new model developed in the framework of inhomogeneous evolution of the Galactic halo. We show that Li evolved at a constant rate relative to iron throughout the halo and old disk epochs but that during the formation of young disk stars, the production of Li relative to iron increased significantly. These observations can be understood in the context of models in which postprimordial Li evolution during the halo and old disk epochs is dominated by Galactic cosmic-ray fusion and spallation reactions, with some contribution from the lprocess in supernovae. The onset of more efficient Li production (relative to iron) in the young disk coincides with the appearance of Li from novae and asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars. The major challenge facing the models is to reconcile the mild evolution of Li during the halo and old disk phases with the more efficient production (relative to iron) at [Fe/H][[0.5. We speculate that cool-bottom processing (production) of Li in low-mass stars may provide an important late-appearing source of Li, without attendant Fe production, that might explain the Li production in the young disk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001


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