A new discovery may help astronomers explain why some stars have extra amounts of the element
Dr. Hideaki Fujiwara/Subaru Telescope/NAOJ
Something is giving small, pristine stars extra lithium. A dozen newly discovered stars contain more of the element than astronomers can explain.
Some of the newfound stars are earlier in their life cycles than stars previously found with too much lithium, researchers report in the Jan. 10 Astrophysical Journal Letters. Finding young lithium-rich stars could help explain where the extra material comes from without having to tinker with well-accepted stellar evolution rules.
The first stars in the Milky Way formed from the hydrogen, helium and small amounts of lithium that were produced in the Big Bang, so most of this ancient cohort have low lithium levels at the surface (SN: 11/14/15, p. 12). As the stars age, they usually lose even more.
Mysteriously, some aging stars have