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The evolution of the abundance of aluminium-26 in a stellar
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The evolution of the abundance of aluminium-26 in a stellar group

January 8, 2013
This graph illustrates how the abundance of 26Al in a stellar complex varies with time, according to a model developed by Rasmus Voss and collaborators (Voss et al., 2009, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 504, 531). During the first couple of million years after the formation of the complex, the abundance of 26Al is minimal, but it rises steeply when the complex is about 3–5 million years old, as its most massive stars evolve into the so-called Wolf-Rayet phase. Along with other heavy elements, 26Al is synthesised in the cores of Wolf-Rayet stars, transported into the stellar atmospheres by convection and then blown away into the surrounding interstellar medium by the powerful winds that characterise this late stage of a massive star's life. In the subsequent million years, the aluminium content declines gently since this element is now only produced by supernovae and, as the complex ages, less and less massive stars terminate their evolution with such explosions. Date: 26 Nov 2010 Depicts: Evolution of 26Al Copyright: Image courtesy of Rasmus Voss, Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and Radboud University Nijmegen