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Title: Primordial Helium-3 Redux: The Helium Isotope Ratio of the Orion Nebula*
Abstract We report the first direct measurement of the helium isotope ratio, 3 He/ 4 He, outside of the Local Interstellar Cloud, as part of science-verification observations with the upgraded CRyogenic InfraRed Echelle Spectrograph. Our determination of 3 He/ 4 He is based on metastable He i * absorption along the line of sight toward Θ 2 A Ori in the Orion Nebula. We measure a value 3 He/ 4 He = (1.77 ± 0.13) × 10 −4 , which is just ∼40% above the primordial relative abundance of these isotopes, assuming the Standard Model of particle physics and cosmology, ( 3 He/ 4 He) p = (1.257 ± 0.017) × 10 −4 . We calculate a suite of galactic chemical evolution simulations to study the Galactic build up of these isotopes, using the yields from Limongi & Chieffi for stars in the mass range M = 8–100 M ⊙ and Lagarde et al. for M = 0.8–8 M ⊙ . We find that these simulations simultaneously reproduce the Orion and protosolar 3 He/ 4 He values if the calculations are initialized with a primordial ratio 3 He / 4 He p = ( 1.043 ± 0.089 ) × 10 − 4 . Even though the quoted error does not include the model uncertainty, this determination agrees with the Standard Model value to within ∼2 σ . We also use the present-day Galactic abundance of deuterium (D/H), helium (He/H), and 3 He/ 4 He to infer an empirical limit on the primordial 3 He abundance, 3 He / H p ≤ ( 1.09 ± 0.18 ) × 10 − 5 , which also agrees with the Standard Model value. We point out that it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the discrepant primordial 7 Li/H abundance with nonstandard physics, without breaking the remarkable simultaneous agreement of three primordial element ratios (D/H, 4 He/H, and 3 He/ 4 He) with the Standard Model values.  more » « less
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The Astrophysical Journal
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Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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