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The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 1–33 | Cite as

Abundances in the interstellar medium

  • T. L. Wilson
  • F. Matteucci
Article

Summary

Recent developments in the theory of element production and the chemical evolution of the galaxy are presented. Following this, observational data and their interpretation are given. A case by case analysis of results for D, He, Li and CNO isotope data in the disk and center of our galaxy is presented; previous results for element gradients are also summarized.

The primordial abundances of D and He cannot be directly obtained from observations; corrections for stellar processing are discussed. From these data and the Li abundances, it appears that the abundance of the light elements is consistent with the standard big bang. In agreement with previous results, the range ofη, the baryon to photon ratio, is 5–8 10−10. If the amount of non-baryonic matter is small, these results indicate an open universe, in the standard big bang model.

New data show a gradient in the (12C/13C) and (16O/18O) ratios with galactocentric distance, DGC. The presence of a gradient in the (14N/15N) ratio is less clear and there is no measurable gradient in the (32S/34S) ratio. In the interstellar medium near the sun, the carbon isotope ratio is −20 percent lower than the solar system ratio. This indicates that there has been only a moderate amount of enrichment of the nearby interstellar medium since the formation of the solar system. These results and previously determined galactic element gradients are interpreted in the framework of chemical evolution models. Delayed recycling of nucleosynthesis products is essential for the correct interpretation of the results. Comparisons of data with galactic evolution models are discussed.

Key words

Isotopes-Galaxy Evolution of-Interstellar Medium abundances 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. L. Wilson
    • 1
  • F. Matteucci
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für RadioastronomieBonn 1Germany
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut für AstrophysikGarchingGermany

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