The University of Arizona

Constraining the 13C neutron source in AGB stars through isotopic analysis of trace elements in presolar SiC

J. G. BARZYK, M. R. SAVINA, A. M. DAVIS, R. GALLINO, F. GYNGARD, S. AMARI, E. ZINNER, M. J. PELLIN, R. S. LEWIS, R. N. CLAYTON

Abstract


Analyses of the isotopic compositions of multiple elements (Mo, Zr, and Ba) in individual mainstream presolar SiC grains were done by resonant ionization mass spectrometry (RIMS). While most heavy element compositions were consistent with model predictions forthe slow neutron capture process (s-process) in low-mass (1.53 Mu) asymptotic giant branch stars of solar metallicity when viewed on single-element three-isotope plots, grains with compositions deviating from model predictions were identified on multi-element plots. These grains have compositions that cannot result from any neutron capture process but can be explained by contamination in some elements with solar system material. Previous work in which only one heavy element per grain was examined has been unable to identify contaminated grains. The multi-element analyses of this study detected contaminated grains which were subsequently eliminated from consideration. The uncontaminated grains form a data set with a greatly reduced spread on the three-isotope plots of each element measured, corresponding to a smaller range of 13C pocket efficiencies in parent AGB stars. Furthermore, due to this reduced spread, the nature of the stellar starting material, previously interpreted as having solar isotopic composition, is uncertain. The constraint on 13C pocket efficiencies in parent stars of these grains may help uncover the mechanism responsible for formation of 13C, the primary neutron source for s-process nucleosynthesis in low-mass stars.

Keywords


Presolar grains;Nucleosynthesis;Stars

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