The intermediate neutron capture process. III. The i-process in AGB stars of different masses and metallicities without overshoot

A. Choplin, L. Siess, S. Goriely

Submitted on 21 September 2022


Alongside the slow (s) and rapid (r) neutron capture processes, an intermediate neutron capture process (i-process) is thought to exist. It happens when protons are mixed in a convective helium-burning zone, and is referred to as proton ingestion event (PIE). A possible astrophysical site is the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase of low-mass low-metallicity stars. We provide i-process yields of a grid of AGB stars experiencing PIEs. We computed 12 models with initial masses of 1, 2, and 3 M and metallicities of [Fe/H] =3.0, 2.5 2.3, and 2.0, with the stellar evolution code STAREVOL. We used a nuclear network of 1160 species at maximum, coupled to the chemical transport equations. These simulations do not include any extra mixing process. Proton ingestion takes place in six out of our 12 AGB models. These models experience i-process nucleosynthesis characterized by neutron densities of 10141015 cm3. Depending on the PIE properties two different evolution paths follow: either the stellar envelope is quickly lost and no more thermal pulses develop or the AGB phase resumes with additional thermal pulses. This behaviour critically depends on the pulse number when the PIE occurs, the mass of the ingested protons, and the extent to which the pulse material is diluted in the convective envelope. The surface enrichment after a PIE is a robust feature of our models and it persists under various convective assumptions. Our models can synthesise heavy elements up to Pb without any parametrized extra mixing process such as overshoot or inclusion of a 13C-pocket. Nevertheless, it remains to be explored how the i-process depends on mixing processes, such as overshoot, thermohaline, or rotation.


Comment: 18 pages, 16 figures, accepted in A&A

Subject: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics