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Telescopes versus Microscopes-- the puzzle of Iron-60

Telescopes versus Microscopes-- the puzzle of Iron-60

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Physics and Astrophysics of Planetary Systems
Editors : will be set by the publisheEAS Publications Series, Vol. ?, 2008 
TELESCOPES VERSUS MICROSCOPES: THE PUZZLE OFIRON-60
Jonathan Williams
1
Abstract.
The discovery that the short-lived radionucleide
60
Fe waspresent in the oldest meteorites suggests that the formation of the Earthclosely followed the death of a massive star. I discuss three astrophysi-cal origins: winds from an AGB star, injection of supernova ejecta intocircumstellar disks, and induced star formation on the boundaries of HII regions. I show that the first two fail to match the solar system
60
Fe abundance in the vast majority of star forming systems. The coresand pillars on the edges of HII regions are spectacular but rare sitesof star formation and larger clumps with masses 10
3
4
at tens of parsec from a supernova are a more likely birth environment for ourSun. I also examine
γ 
-ray observations of 
60
Fe decay and show thatthe Galactic background could account for the low end of the rangeof meteoritic measurements if the massive star formation rate was atleast a factor of 2 higher 4.6Gyr ago.
1 Introduction
The study of planet formation can be approached from two sides: the large scaleencompassing the molecular core that collapses to a star and surrounding planetarydisk, and the small scale in which the planets and the remnants of their formation,meteorites, are examined in detail to learn about the conditions of the early solarsystem (ESS).Astronomers have identified each of the main stages by which the interstel-lar medium (ISM) becomes molecular, fragments, and individual cores collapse toprotostars. We have imaged the disks of planet forming material around youngstars and witnessed the debris from planetesimal collisions. Although many detailsremain to be worked out, the basic properties of a proto-planetary disk, such asmass, size, composition, and lifetime, are well characterized. We have also iden-tified over 200 extrasolar planetary systems around nearby stars. The surprising
1
Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA; jpw@ifa.hawaii.educ
EDP Sciences 2008DOI: (will be inserted later)
 
2 Physics and Astrophysics of Planetary Systemsdiversity of these systems, however, raises the vexing issue of how typical is oursolar system.Cosmochemists have identified the oldest rocks in the solar system and de-termined their age, 4.567Gyr, to astonishing precision. Careful study of theirmineralogy shows the detailed conditions, including, for example, thermal history,radiation field, and transport processes, in the ESS. As with cosmologists studyingthe Universe, however, there is one and only one system at hand which raises thevexing issue of how typical is our solar system.The areas where these two different lines of inquiry, telescopic and microscopic,overlap provide interesting comparisons. Short lived radionucleides (SLR), withhalf-lives less than 3Myr (see below), are of particular interest for understandingplanet formation and the astrophysical environment of the ESS. In this chapter,I focus on the puzzle presented by the presence of 
60
Fe in the most primitivemeteorites. As I show, it may be hard to reconcile the astronomical and cosmo-chemical pictures but it is important to try since it may show the limitations in ourknowledge or understanding and it may also help show whether our solar systemis indeed typical, or not.I begin by reviewing the astronomical and cosmochemical background to thissubject. These sections are brief as they are covered in other chapters in this book.I discuss three different scenarios which have been proposed for the delivery of SLRinto the ESS and assess the probability for incorporation of 
60
Fe. I conclude thatthe only viable mechanism that might apply to a largenumber of planetary systemsis the rapid collapse of large cluster forming clumps neighboring a massive starforming region. Finally I return to a basic assumption that the
60
Fe abundanceis greater than the Galactic background and show a discrepancy between thepredicted level and recent
γ 
-ray observations.
2 Astronomical observations of star and planet formation
Stars form in molecular clouds, strung out along the spiral arms of the Galaxy.Our current understanding of the processes by which these large and massiveclouds condense to stellar scales was recently summarized by McKee & Ostriker(2007). A rotationally supported disk inevitably accompanies the protostar due toconservationof angular momentum and the magnification of any initial spin. Thesedisks initially funnel material onto the growing star but subsequently become thesites of planet formation. The observational properties and the theory behind thecoagulation of sub-micron sized ISM dust grains to planetesimals are reviewed inthe chapters by Hogerheijde and Youdin.For the purposes of the discussion here it is important to note that severalstates, or phases, of gas coexist in the ISM (Cox2005). The lowest density stateis a hot ionized phase produced by supernovae and this fills most of the volume.Most of the mass is in atomic clouds at intermediate temperatures. The highestdensity state is cold and molecular. Most stars form in giant molecular clouds
 
The puzzle of 
60
Fe 3with typical sizes
1
,
L
50pc and masses,
10
5
. The clouds possessconsiderable substructure, generically characterized as clumps with sizes
L
5pcand masses,
10
3
(Williams, Blitz, & McKee2000). Individual stars formin dense cores within clumps, with typical radii
R
0
.
05pc and mass
1
(di Francesco et al.2007). Protostellar disks have radii
R
100AU and massesranging from
10
3
10
1
(Andrews & Williams2007).Although many observational and theoretical studies are directed toward theformation of isolated, individual stars, as this is the simplest system to understand,most stars form in large clusters (Lada & Lada2003). The stellar mass distributionis heavily skewed toward the low end in terms of numbers but the few massive starsdominate the luminosity and their radiation, winds, and eventual supernovae maysignificantly affect the properties of neighboring primordial planetary systems.The timescales are also critical for our comparison with cosmochemistry. It issurprisingly difficult to identify young or old clouds (or even tell the difference –see Williams & Maddalena1996) and consequently the lifetimes of giant molecularcloud are highly uncertain. Current estimates, based on theories of cloud formationand destruction, range from
1
20Myr (Hartmann, Ballesteros-Paredes, &Bergin2001;Matzner2002). The evolutionary state of cores within star forming clouds are easier to characterize and several lines of evidence suggest that as soonas they become sufficiently dense,
n
H
2
10
5
cm
3
, stars will rapidly form withina few free-fall timescales,
10
5
yr (Jorgensen et al.2007). The presence of acircumstellar disk around a star is most readily detected as a long wavelengthexcess above the stellar photosphere. Large surveys of clusters with different agesshow that the fraction of stars with disks decreases from an initial value closeto unity to zero by by 6Myr, and that the median disk lifetime is about 3Myr(Haisch, Lada, & Lada2001;Hernandez et al.2008). This is the characteristic timescale for the formation of planetesimals although the last steps in the growthof fully fledged planets may take considerably longer (see chapters by Kalas andBeichmann).
3 Short lived radionucleides and the importance of 
60
Fe
Astronomers are limited to studying the light that molecular cores, young stars,and dusty disks either emit naturally or absorb and scatter from a backgroundor nearby source. Having rocks in the laboratory, however, allows for far moretargeted and detailed investigations. Cosmochemists can break down individualgrains within meteorites to the atomic level and measure their structure, mineral-ogy, and isotopic composition to learn about the precise conditions in which theyformed.An element can have unstable isotopes that are chemically identical but decayover cosmic timescales. A dust grain with a particular mineralogy can therefore beincorporated into a planetesimal but subsequently change its composition. These
1
I use
to indicate an order of magnitude variation around a value and
for a factor of 3.

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