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Abundance of Lithium in stars

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    7th Dec, 2021

Context

Recently, scientists have found a clue to the mystery behind the high abundance of Lithium in some evolved stars.

Key-findings

  • Scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bangalore have for the first time confirmed that all the lithium-rich stars are burning helium in their core.
    • IIA Bangalore is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India
  • They have speculated that lithium production is linked to the violent helium-core flash.
  • The observations were gathered on the 9 m Anglo-Australian Telescope at the Australian Astrophysical Observatory. 
  • The survey GALAH – named after a common Australian bird, provided a collection of about 500,000 stars with well-determined physical and chemical properties, including lithium abundances.
  • This exercise revealed the rare presence of lithium-rich giants in all the Sun-like low-mass stars.
  • They created virtual stars of various masses and metallicity and compared the properties of these virtual stars with that of real stars from the GALAH survey that confirmed that all the lithium-rich stars are burning helium in their core.

About

About Lithium

  • It is a chemical element with the symbol Li.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white metal.
  • Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • It is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil.
  • Lithium has become the new 'white gold' as the demand for high performing rechargeable batteries is rising.
  • Rising global lithium demand and surging prices have drawn increased interest in the so-called ‘lithium triangle’ that spans parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

Lithium reserve in India

  • Researchers at the Atomic Minerals Directorate have estimated lithium reserves of 14,100 tonnes in a small patch of land surveyed in Southern Karnataka’s Mandya district recently.
  • This is also to be India’s first ever Lithium deposit site found.
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