The origin of carbon

Carbon was not among the elements analysed in our large disk-star project. It is an abundant element in the Galaxy, and apart from its chemical and biological significance it is important for stellar opacities and energy generation, and knowledge about its abundance is significant for estimates of stellar ages. We later detected that a forbidden [C I] line is present in the spectra originally obtained for the stars in the large disk-star project. The line is very weak, but Andersson & Edvardsson (1994, A&A 290, 590), give the results of a first attempt to utilize the line for abundance studies.

Now, much higher-S/N observations of 80 stars have been analysed: Gustafsson et al. (1999, A&A 342, 426). The new results and comparisons with abundances found in irregular galaxies show nicely that the carbon existing in the Galaxy and elsewhere in the Universe is mainly being produced in massive stars, and rules out e.g. carbon stars as a dominating carbon producer.

Latest update: June 2, 2000