Content: Chemical abundance and evolution, ...Star forming regions, ...QSOs
Abstracts from
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics and A. McWilliam, E. F. van Dishoeck, Geoffrey A. Blake, Fred Hamann­, Gary Ferland et al.


­The metallicity of stars in the Galaxy ranges from [Fe/H] = 4 to +0.5 dex, and the solar iron abundance is (Fe) = 7.51 ± 0.01 dex. The average values of [Fe/H] in the solar neighborhood, the halo, and Galactic bulge are 0.2, 1.6, and 0.2 dex respectively.
Detailed abundance analysis reveals that the Galactic disk, halo, and bulge exhibit unique abundance patterns of O, Mg, Si, Ca, and Ti and neutron-capture elements. These signatures show that environment plays an important role in chemical evolution and that supernovae come in many flavors with a range of element yields.
The 300-fold dispersion in heavy element abundances of the most metal-poor stars suggests incomplete mixing of ejecta from individual supernova, with vastly different yields, in clouds of 106 M.
The composition of Orion association stars indicates that star-forming regions are significantly self-enriched on time scales of 80 million years. The rapid self-enrichment and inhomogeneous chemical evolution models are required to match observed abundance trends and the dispersion in the age-metallicity relation.


­Recent advances in the understanding of the chemical processes that occur during all stages of the formation of stars, from the collapse of molecular clouds to the assemblage of icy planetesimals in protoplanetary accretion disks, are reviewed. Observational studies of the circumstellar material within 100-10,000 AU of the young star with (sub)millimeter single-dish telescopes, millimeter interferometers, and ground-based as well as space-borne infrared observatories have only become possible within the past few years. Results are compared with detailed chemical models that emphasize the coupling of gas-phase and grain-surface chemistry. Molecules that are particularly sensitive to different routes of formation and that may be useful in distinguishing between a variety of environments and histories are outlined. In the cold, low-density prestellar cores, radicals and long unsaturated carbon chains are enhanced. During the cold collapse phase, most species freeze out onto the grains in the high-density inner region. Once young stars ignite, their surroundings are heated through radiation and/or shocks, whereupon new chemical characteristics appear. Evaporation of ices drives a "hot core" chemistry rich in organic molecules, whereas shocks propagating through the dense envelope release both refractory and volatile grain material, resulting in prominent SiO, OH, and H2O emission. The role of future instrumentation in further developing these chemical and temporal diagnostics is discussed.

3. ELEMENTAL ABUNDANCES IN QUASISTELLAR OBJECTS: Star Formation and Galactic Nuclear Evolution at High Redshifts


Quasar (QSO) elemental abundances provide unique probes of high-redshift star formation and galaxy evolution. There is growing evidence from both the emission and intrinsic absorption lines that QSO environments have roughly solar or higher metallicities out to redshifts >4. The range is not well known, but solar to a few times solar metallicity appears to be typical. There is also evidence for higher metallicities in more luminous objects and for generally enhanced N/C and Fe/ abundances compared with solar ratios. These results identify QSOs with vigorous, high-redshift star formationconsistent with the early evolution of massive galactic nuclei or dense protogalactic clumps. However, the QSOs offer new constraints. For example, (a) most of the enrichment and star formation must occur before the QSOs "turn on" or become observable, on time scales of 1 Gyr at least at the highest redshifts. (b) The tentative result for enhanced Fe/ suggests that the first local star formation began at least 1 Gyr before the QSO epoch. (c) The star formation must ultimately be extensive to reach high metallicities; that is, a substantial fraction of the local gas must be converted into stars and stellar remnants. The exact fraction depends on the shape of the initial mass function (IMF). (d) The highest derived metallicities require IMFs that are weighted slightly more toward massive stars than in the solar neighborhood. (e) High metallicities also require deep gravitational potentials. By analogy with the well-known mass-metallicity relation among low-redshift galaxies, metal-rich QSOs should reside in galaxies (or protogalaxies) that are minimally as massive (or as tightly bound) as our own Milky Way.

Compiled by G.T.Petrov, 2004