The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs: rubidium abundances in nearby cool stars

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Due to their ubiquity and very long main-sequence lifetimes, abundance determinations in M dwarfs provide a powerful and alternative tool to GK dwarfs to study the formation and chemical enrichment history of our Galaxy. In this study, abundances of the neutroncapture elements Rb, Sr, and Zr are derived, for the first time, in a sample of nearby M dwarfs. We focus on stars in the metallicity range −0.5 <˷ [Fe/H] <˷ +0.3, an interval poorly explored for Rb abundances in previous analyses. To do this we use high-resolution, high-signal-to-noise-ratio, optical and near-infrared spectra of 57 M dwarfs observed with CARMENES. The resulting [Sr/Fe] and [Zr/Fe] ratios for most M dwarfs are almost constant at about the solar value, and are identical to those found in GK dwarfs of the same metallicity. However, for Rb we find systematic underabundances ([Rb/Fe] < 0.0) by a factor two on average. Furthermore, a tendency is found for Rb – but not for other heavy elements (Sr, Zr) – to increase with increasing metallicity such that [Rb/Fe] >˷ 0.0 is attained at metallicities higher than solar. These are surprising results, never seen for any other heavy element, and are difficult to understand within the formulation of the s- and r-processes, both contributing sources to the Galactic Rb abundance. We discuss the reliability of these findings for Rb in terms of non-LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium) effects, stellar activity, or an anomalous Rb abundance in the Solar System, but no explanation is found. We then interpret the full observed [Rb/Fe] versus [Fe/H] trend within the framework of theoretical predictions from state-of-the-art chemical evolution models for heavy elements, but a simple interpretation is not found either. In particular, the possible secondary behaviour of the [Rb/Fe] ratio at super-solar metallicities would require a much larger production of Rb than currently predicted in AGB stars through the s-process without overproducing Sr and Zr. Python libraries Matplotlib, NumPy, SciPy and collection of software packages AstroPy.
© ESO 2020. Artículo firmado por 28 autores. CARMENES is an instrument for the Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto (Almería, Spain), operated jointly by the Junta de Andalucía and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). CARMENES was funded by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG), the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through projects FICTS-2011-02, ICTS-2017-07-CAHA-4, and CAHA16-CE-3978, and the members of the CARMENES Consortium (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Landessternwarte Königstuhl, Institut de Ciències de l’Espai, Institut für Astrophysik Göttingen, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Hamburger Sternwarte, Centro de Astrobiología and Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán), with additional contributions by the MINECO, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the Major Research Instrumentation Programme and Research Unit FOR2544 “Blue Planets around Red Stars”, the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, the states of Baden-Württemberg and Niedersachsen, and by the Junta de Andalucía. We acknowledge financial support from the Agencia Estatal de Investigación of the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, the Generalitat de Catalunya, ERDF, and NASA through projects PGC2018-095317-B-C21, PID2019-109522GB-C51/2/3/4, PGC2018-098153-B-C33, AYA2016-79425-C3- [1,2,3]-P, FPU15/01476, UID[B,P]/04434/2020, PTDC/FIS-AST/28953/2017, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-028953, SEV-2015-0548, SEV-2017-0709, MDM-2017- 0737, NNX17AG24G, and the CERCA programme. Finally, we thank Verne Smith, Katia Cunha, and the APOGEE/ASPCAP team for the APOGEE line list, and K. Lodders for her useful comments on the manuscript.
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