University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, May 9th 2019
3:35 pm:
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium in Physics Tate B50
Speaker: David Weinberg, The Ohio State University
Subject: Decoding Chemical Evolution and Nucleosynthesis
Student Award ceremony at the beginning of colloquium. Refreshments served in B50 Atrium after colloquium

I will discuss insights from analytic and numerical models of
galactic chemical evolution and observations of Milky Way
elemental abundances from the SDSS APOGEE survey. Under
generic model assumptions, abundances and abundance ratios
approach an equilibrium in which element production from
nucleosynthesis is balanced by element depletion from star
formation and outflows. Reproducing solar abundances requires
outflows with mass-loading factors of 1-3, but one can evade
this conclusion by assuming low stellar yields or metal-enhanced
winds; the high observed deuterium abundance of the local ISM
argues against these alternatives and in favor of outflows.
Starbursts or other sudden transitions can produce temporary
boosts in alpha-to-iron ratios, and other surprising behavior
such as backward evolution of a stellar population from high
metallicity to low metallicity. APOGEE observations show
that the distributions of stars in (alpha,iron,age)-space change
steadily across the Milky Way disk. Given these distributions,
the behavior of other APOGEE abundance ratios can be explained
by changes in the ratio of core collapse to Type Ia supernova
enrichment. The separability of "multi-element cartography"
offers a route to empirically constraining supernova yields
in a way that is insensitive to uncertainties in other aspects
of chemical evolution.

Faculty Host: Evan Skillman

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