The chemical evolution of barium and europium in the Milky Way
Astronomy and Astrophysics
We compute the evolution of the abundances of barium and europium in the Milky Way and we compare our results with the observed abundances from the recent UVES Large Program "First Stars". We use a chemical evolution model which already reproduces the majority of observational constraints. We confirm that barium is a neutron capture element mainly produced in the low mass AGB stars during the thermal-pulsing phase by the 13C neutron source, in a slow neutron capture process. However, in order
... However, in order to reproduce the [Ba/Fe] vs. [Fe/H] as well as the Ba solar abundance, we suggest that Ba should be also produced as an r-process element by massive stars in the range 10-30 solar masses. On the other hand, europium should be only an r-process element produced in the same range of masses (10-30 solar masses), at variance with previous suggestions indicating a smaller mass range for the Eu producers. As it is well known, there is a large spread in the [Ba/Fe] and [Eu/Fe] ratios at low metallicities, although smaller in the newest data. With our model we estimate for both elements (Ba and Eu) the ranges for the r-process yields from massive stars which better reproduce the trend of the data. We find that with the same yields which are able to explain the observed trends, the large spread in the [Ba/Fe] and [Eu/Fe] ratios cannot be explained even in the context of an inhomogeneous models for the chemical evolution of our Galaxy. We therefore derive the amount by which the yields should be modified to fully account for the observed spread. We then discuss several possibilities to explain the size of the spread. We finally suggest that the production ratio of [Ba/Eu] could be almost constant in the massive stars.