The Gaia-ESO Survey: A simple explanation for the Li-rich giant problem
Casey et al
The discovery of lithium-rich giants contradicts expectations from canonical stellar evolution. Although multiple scenarios have been proposed to preserve or produce Li, no model can explain the ensemble properties of Li-rich giants. We report on the serendipitous discovery of 20 Li-rich giants observed through the Gaia-ESO Survey. Our sample is one of the largest in the literature, and includes nine towards the CoRoT fields. We explore all mechanisms proposed to explain Li-rich giants. While the planet accretion scenario was presented to reconcile observations of Li-rich giants across the RGB/AGB, this is inconsistent with recent studies of close-in giant planets. We highlight recent observations of the difference in hot Jupiter occurrence rates around dwarf and sub-giant stars as evidence for their tidal destruction when the convective envelope expands. Therefore any close-in giant planet is likely to be engulfed well before the host evolves up the RGB/AGB. When this occurs, simulations indicate a giant planet will provide a small reservoir of unburnt Li to replenish the stellar photospheric abundance, and subsequently induce deep mixing to produce additional Li. We argue these two independent lines of evidence actually predict the existence of Li-rich giants, and suggests they should be preferentially found before the luminosity bump at near-solar metallicities, consistent with observations. This scenario explains (indeed, predicts) the majority properties of Li-rich giants, leaving a minority population of evolved metal-poor Li-rich giants which are explainable by internal mixing processes associated with late evolutionary stages, or mass transfer from more evolved AGB stars.