Detection of the Second r-Process Peak Element Tellurium in Metal-Poor Stars
Using near-ultraviolet spectra obtained with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope, we detect neutral tellurium in three metal-poor stars enriched by products of r-process nucleosynthesis, BD +17 3248, HD 108317, and HD 128279. Tellurium (Te, Z = 52) is found at the second r-process peak (A approximate to 130) associated with the N = 82 neutron shell closure, and it has not been detected previously in Galactic halo stars. The derived tellurium abundances match the scaled solar system r-process distribution within the uncertainties, confirming the predicted second peak r-process residuals. These results suggest that tellurium is predominantly produced in the main component of the r-process, along with the rare earth elements.