LiBeB production by nuclei and neutrinos

Elisabeth Vangioni-Flam, Michel Cassé, Brian D. Fields, Keith A. Olive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production of LiBeB isotopes by nuclear and neutrino spallation are compared in the framework of Galactic evolutionary models. As motivated by γ-ray observations of Orion, different possible sources of low-energy C and O nuclei are considered, such as supernovae of various masses and WC stars. We confirm that the low-energy nuclei (LEN), injected in molecular clouds by stellar winds and Type II supernovae originating from the most massive progenitors, can very naturally reproduce the observed Be and B evolution in the early Galaxy (halo phase). Assuming the global importance of the LEN component, we compute upper and lower bounds to the neutrino process contribution corresponding to limiting cases of LEN particle spectra. A consistent solution is found with a spectrum of the kind proposed by Ramaty et al, e.g., flat up to Ec = 30 MeV nucleon-1 and decreasing abruptly above. This solution fulfills the challenge of explaining, at the same time, the general Be and B evolution and their solar system abundances, without overproducing 7Li at very low metallicities, and the meteoritic 11B/10B ratio. In this case, neutrino spallation is constrained to play a limited role in the genesis of the solar system 11B. Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) become operative late in the evolution of the disk ([Fe/H] > -1), but their contribution to the solar abundances of 9Be, 10B, and 11B is not dominant (35%, 30%, and 20% respectively). Thus, with this LEN spectrum, GCRs are not the main source of 9Be and B in the Galaxy. The most favorable case for neutrinos (adopting the same kind of spectrum) has Ec = 20 MeV nucleon-1. Even in this case, the neutrino yields of Woosley & Weaver must be reduced by a factor of 5 to avoid 11B overproduction. Furthermore, this solution leads to a high B/Be ratio at [Fe/H] = -2, difficult to reconcile with the observations, unless specifically non-local thermodynamic equilibrium corrections to the boron abundance are large. On the other hand, if neutrino spallation does play an important role in the production of Galactic 11B, then LEN processes are relegated to a more local phenomenon. However, in this case, unless neutrino spallation can also produce 9Be (and to some extent 10B and 6Li), a new source of primary 9Be must be found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmic rays
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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