Temperature Scales and the "Lithium Problem"
The discovery of the Spite plateau in the abundances of 7Li for metal-poor stars led to the determination of an observationally deduced primordial lithium abundance. However, with the determination of the baryon density, Omega_B_h^2, from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) data, a discrepancy arose between observationally determined and theoretically determined abundances of 7Li. This is what has become known as the “lithium problem”. Of all the uncertain factors in determining a stellar Li abundance, the effective temperature is the most important. This thesis is concerned with determining an accurate effective temperature scale for metal-poor halo dwarfs, paying specific attention to eliminating any possible systematic errors. This is done by utilising the exponential term, Chi/T, of the Boltzmann equation. Two assumptions are adopted; firstly the simplifying assumptions of local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE), and secondly the more sophisticated techniques of non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE). The temperature scales are compared to others derived using different techniques; a photometric scale, where I find comparable Teff in LTE and hotter temperatures by an average of ~ 150 K in NLTE; a scale derived using Balmer lines, for which I have comparable values in LTE and hotter Teff values, by typically 110 K – 160 K, in NLTE; and finally a scale derived using an infrared flux method (IRFM). Here I find their Teff values are hotter by ~ 250 K for LTE and ~ 190 K in NLTE. Lithium abundances are then calculated for the program stars and a mean Li abundance is derived. I find values ranging from A(Li) = 2.10 dex – 2.16 dex with the LTE scales and A(Li) = 2.19 dex – 2.21 dex for the NLTE scales. These mean Li abundances are compared to other observationally deduced abundances, for which I find comparable results in LTE and higher values in NLTE, and to the WMAP + big bang nucleosynthesis calculated Li abundance. I find that my new values are still considerably lower than the WMAP value and are therefore unable to reconcile the lithium problem. Second to this primary investigation, I use Ti as an independent test of the derived Teff values and log g’s. I find that Ti is not a useful constraint on the temperatures or, therefore, on the lithium problem. I also assess the impact of the new Teff scales on the different models of Galactic chemical evolution (GCE), comparing newly calculated abundances with GCE determined abundances. It was found that trends exist in several of the elements; however, these were not statistically relevant. Also a larger degree of scatter was found in the abundances compared to the Arnone et al. (2005). This scatter was not to the degree found in the Argast et al. (2000). Reasons for the differences have been discussed.