EVIDENCE OF ELEMENT DIFFUSION INSIDE THE SUN AND THE STARS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ON THE LITHIUM PRIMORDIAL ABUNDANCE

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Abstract

The process of element segregation in stars (also called “microscopic diffusion”) has to be introduced in all computations of stellar structure to obtain consistent models. Although recognized by the pioneers of stellar physics, this process has long been forgotten, except for white dwarfs and for the so-called “chemically peculiar stars”. More recently helioseismology has given evidence that this process occurs in the Sun, and leads to helium and heavier element depletion by about 20 percent. Some macroscopic motions (mild mixing) must also occur below the convection zone in order to account for the lithium depletion. These motions do not prevent the segregation: they only slightly smooth the abundance gradients. These results are presented here and the connexion with the 3He abundance is discussed. The importance of these processes for Pop II stars is also developped.

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