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Space

The Solar Oxygen Crisis 158

Astrophysicist writes "The Astrophysical Journal this week published an article about the abundance of oxygen in the Sun. Oxygen is the third most abundant atom in the universe, behind hydrogen and helium. Most of the hydrogen and helium was formed in the Big Bang, which means that oxygen is the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the interior of the stars. The solar abundance of oxygen, which is key in astrophysics because of its use as a calibration reference for other objects, was thought to be well established since the 80s. However, recent evidence indicates that it has been overestimated by almost a factor of two. A revision of the solar oxygen abundance would have a cascading effect on other important elements, such as carbon, nitrogen and neon, whose abundance is only known relative to that of oxygen. In addition to the impact on the chemical composition of many stars, models of solar interior may require some reworking in order to be consistent with the new data."

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