Astrophysics

Primordial Beryllium?

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Science  17 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5495, pp. 1263
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5495.1263a

Hydrogen, helium, and lithium are the elements usually thought to have formed directly from the Big Bang. Beryllium (Be) and boron, however, are thought to be secondary elements formed from supernovae by spallation reactions between cosmic rays, alpha particles, and protons and heavier nuclei such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the interstellar medium.

Primas et al. have estimated the abundance of Be from spectra of the very metal-poor star G 64-12 obtained with the high-resolution ultraviolet and visible echelle-grating spectrograph (UVES) on the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The abundance of Be in G 64-12 (the most metal-poor star in which Be has been measured) is greater than that predicted by evolutionary models for secondary element formation. These results suggest that a new mechanism for primordial formation of Be may be needed and that the nucleosynthetic process of the Big Bang may need to be updated. — LR

Astron. Astrophys., in press (astro-ph/0009482).

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