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Germanium, Arsenic, and Selenium Abundances in Metal-Poor Stars

The elements germanium (Ge, Z=32), arsenic (As, Z=33), and selenium (Se, Z=34) span the transition from charged-particle or explosive synthesis of the iron-group elements to neutron-capture synthesis of heavier elements. Among these three elements, only the chemical evolution of germanium has been studied previously. Here we use archive observations made with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope and observations from several ground-based facilities to study the chemical enrichment histories of seven stars with metallicities -2.6 < [Fe/H] < -0.4. We perform a standard abundance analysis of germanium, arsenic, selenium, and several other elements produced by neutron-capture reactions. When combined with previous derivations of germanium abundances in metal-poor stars, our sample reveals an increase in the [Ge/Fe] ratios at higher metallicities. This could mark the onset of the weak s-process contribution to germanium. In contrast, the [As/Fe] and [Se/Fe] ratios remain roughly constant. These data do not directly indicate the origin of germanium, arsenic, and selenium at low metallicity, but they suggest that the weak and main components of the s-process are not likely sources.

Detection of Elements at All Three r-process Peaks in the Metal-Poor Star HD 160617

We report the first detection of elements at all three r-process peaks in the metal-poor halo star HD 160617. These elements include arsenic and selenium, which have not been detected previously in halo stars, and the elements tellurium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, which have been detected previously. Absorption lines of these elements are found in archive observations made with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. We present up-to-date absolute atomic transition probabilities and complete line component patterns for these elements. Additional archival spectra of this star from several ground-based instruments allow us to derive abundances or upper limits of 45 elements in HD 160617, including 27 elements produced by neutron-capture reactions. The average abundances of the elements at the three r-process peaks are similar to the predicted solar system r-process residuals when scaled to the abundances in the rare earth element domain. This result for arsenic and selenium may be surprising in light of predictions that the production of the lightest r-process elements generally should be decoupled from the heavier r-process elements.


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