AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 34 Detecting the First Stars and AGN
Topical Session, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, 707/709

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[34.04] Metallicities and Nucleosynthesis Patterns in Early Generation Halo Stars

T. Beers (Michigan State University)

I review our present knowledge of the Metallicity Distribution Function of stars in the low-metallicity tail of the halo population of the Galaxy, and the variety of observed elemental signatures that might be associated with particular astrophysical origins in the early Universe. Such signatures include stars that exhibit (a) highly and mildly enhanced r-process element ratios, as compared to the solar ratios, (b) highly s-process enriched stars, (c) stars showing large enrichments of both the r- and and s-process elements, and (d) stars that are greatly enhanced in the light element species, such as CNO, and (in some cases) the alpha elements.

Because the stars in which these characteristics are observed all have metallicity [Fe/H] \le -2.5, they are inferred to have formed no more than 0.5-1 Gyrs after the Big Bang, prior to the final assemblage of the Milky Way. As such, they provide our best available probes of the nature of early element producers, such as Type II SN and hypernovae, as well as binaries that included (now deceased) stars of intermediate (1.5 - 3 Mo) masses.

I outline ongoing and future plans for dramatically accelerating the pace of discovery of these rare, but clearly important, objects.

Partial support for this work has been received from NSF grants AST 00-98508 and AST 00-98549, and from JINA, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, an NSF Physics Frontier Center.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: beers@pa.msu.edu

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