Lithium diffusion after recombination

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The observed amount of lithium along the Spite plateau disagrees by a factor of ∼ 3-5 with the predictions of the standard cosmology. Since the observations are limited to the local Universe (halo stars, globular clusters and satellites of the MilkyWay) it is possible that some physical processes led to the spatial separation of lithium and local reduction of [Li/H]. We study the question of lithium diffusion after the recombination in sub-Jeans halos, taking into account that more than 95% of lithium remains in the singly-ionized state at all times. Large scattering cross sections on the rest of the ionized gas leads to strong coupling of lithium to protons and its intial direction of diffusion coincides with that of H+. In the rest frame of the neutral gas this leads to the diffusion of H+ and Li+ out of overdensities depleting Li/H in the minima of gravitational wells relative to the primordial value, which may be a missing piece in the cosmological lithium puzzle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-246
Number of pages7
JournalMemorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana, Supplementi - Journal of the Italian Astronomical Society, Supplement
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventLithium in the Cosmos - Paris, France
Duration: Feb 27 2012Feb 29 2012


  • Atomic diffusion
  • Recombination
  • Rutherford scattering


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