A phenomenological modification of thermohaline mixing in globular cluster red giants

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Thermohaline mixing is a favoured mechanism for the so-called 'extra mixing' on the red giant branch of low-mass stars. The mixing is triggered by the molecular weight inversion created above the hydrogen shell during first dredge-up when helium-3 burns via 3He(3He,2p)4He. The standard 1D diffusive mixing scheme cannot simultaneously match carbon and lithium abundances to NGC 6397 red giants. We investigate two modifications to the standard scheme: (1) an advective two-stream mixing algorithm and (2) modifications to the standard 1D thermohaline mixing formalism. We cannot simultaneously match carbon and lithium abundances using our two-stream mixing approach. However, we develop a modified diffusive scheme with an explicit temperature dependence that can simultaneously fit carbon and lithium abundances to NGC 6397 stars. Our modified diffusive scheme induces mixing that is faster than the standard theory predicts in the hotter part of the thermohaline region and mixing that is slower in the cooler part. Our results infer that the extra mixing mechanism needs further investigation and more observations are required, particularly for stars in different clusters spanning a range in metallicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4600-4612
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Stars: abundances
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: interiors
  • Stars: low-mass

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