The standard story about formation of stars goes as follows. Nuclear fusion at the cores of stars produced the elements. In the first stars only light elements were formed and spewed out in supernova explosion to get gathered to the stars of next generation able to produce heavier elements. The elements heavier than Fe were not produced in stellar interiors since this was not energetically possible. One would expect that in very early Universe in which only few generations of stars had been present, the interstellar clouds would contain only light elements.
This story can be compared to empirical facts by observing quasars emitting light with huge intensity coming from cosmic gas clouds. The light from quasars reveals their chemical composition via absorption lines. The researches (Eduardo Banados, Michael Rauch and Tom Cooper) were able to identify 13 billion year old cosmic clouds formed 850 million years after Big Bang and study their spectroscopy. The work is publish in The Astrophysical Journal (see this).
The surprising finding was that the abundances of elements look very modern, they are very much like those in the cosmic clouds formed several billion years later. The conclusion is that the first generation of stars formed more quickly than believed and were already expired before the formation of the cosmic clouds so that the clouds would consist of chemical products of much later star generations even before the galaxies were in place.
To me this interpretation does not look convincing. For me these findings represent a further challenge for nuclear physics as we believe it to be. Let us list some shortcoming of the standard nuclear physics first.
- The formation of elements heavier than Fe is still poorly understood. No evidence for the R-process in supernovae was found in the case of SN1987A. There is no generally accepted model for the production of elements heavier than Fe.
- Even worse, nuclear fusion inside solar stars thought to be thoroughly understood, has a 10 year old anomaly. The abundances of elements are higher in the interior than they should be (see this). This is really serious anomaly and challenges the foundations of nuclear physics - in particular the idealization of nucleons with point like particles and use of potential models
and the notion of tunnelling which is central for understanding nuclear fusion.
- There is also "cold fusion" or LENR, which is a fact but still not admitted by the mainstream (see this and this). The essential aspects are production of heat energy and transmutations.
- The observed abundances of Li, Be, and B cannot be explained in terms of production in Big Bang, stellar interiors or in supernovas. It is not that the abundances were too low: they are quite too high. The amount of 6Li and 7Li produced in big bang nucleosynthesis (BBNC, see this) have been found empirically to be near the correct values in the early Universe and the amount of Li approaches to constant for low-metallicity stars (first star generations) although the amount of 7Li is too small by a factor of 1/3 at least (see this).
Li is however unstable in the stellar cores and is destroyed there since Li cannot survive in the high temperature of solar core and there is no manner to create it since the intermediate isotopes giving rise to them by decay are very short lived. Same applies to Be and B. The problem is that the amounts of Li, Be, and B in the recent Universe are too high. This is of course highly desirable from the point of view of living systems.
The official explanation discussed is based on the notion of spallation (see this). The collisions of very energetic cosmic rays with heavy nuclei would induce their decay to smaller ones and produce Li, Be, and B. There are many uncertainties involved so that taking this mechanism seriously remains a matter of belief. TGD proposal is "cold fusion" outside stellar interiors as a produced of Li, Be, and B. This mechanism might also relate to the 7Li puzzle.
- The tunnelling is central element in ordinary nuclear fusion and is replaced by a new mechanism involving in an essential manner the geometrodynamics of space-time as a surface in M4×CP2 and new view about quantum theory and dark matter residing at monopole magnetic flux tubes.
- Besides ordinary nuclei also their dark variants as phases having effective Planck constant heff=n×h0 are present in solar interior and contribute to the abundances.
- The view about pre-stellar evolution changes. "Cold fusion" in near to the surface region of star precedes ordinary fusion and serves as "warmup band" heating the matter to temperatures of ordinary nuclear fusion.
- "Cold fusion" as induced by dark fusion becomes an important contributor to the production of also heavier elements formed already before the hot fusion in the solar core has started. This mechanism works also outside stars and the elemental abundances could be almost universal having very little to do with the nuclear physics in the stellar interior.
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.