HE 1327-2326, An Unevolved Star With Fe/H <-5.0. III. Does Its Atmosphere Reflect Its Natal Composition?
Based on spectroscopic constraints derived from nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium line formation, we explore the likely range of stellar parameters (T-eff and log g) for the hyper-metal-poor (HMP) star HE 1327-2326. Combining the constraints from Balmer line profiles and the Ca I/II ionization equilibrium, a subgiant stage of evolution is indicated. This result is further supported by spectrophotometric observations of the Balmer jump. If a higher T-eff value was used (as favored by some photometric calibrations), the spectroscopic analysis would indicate a turnoff-point stage of evolution. Using a stellar-structure code that treats the effects of atomic diffusion throughout the star in detail, we evolve a low-mass model star to reach the Hertzsprung-Russell-diagram position of HE 1327-2326 after roughly 13 Gyr. While the surface abundances are modified significantly (by more than 1 dex for the case of uninhibited diffusion), such corrections cannot resolve the discrepancy between the abundance inferred from the nondetection of the Li I resonance line at 6707 angstrom and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe based primordial lithium abundance. As there are numerous processes that can destroy lithium, any cosmological interpretation of a lower-than-expected lithium abundance at the lowest metallicities will have to await sample sizes of unevolved HMP stars that are 1 order of magnitude larger. The situation remains equally inconclusive concerning atomic-diffusion corrections. Here, attempts have to be made to better constrain internal mixing processes, both observationally and by means of sophisticated modeling. With constraints on additional mixing processes taken from a recent globular-cluster study, the likeliest scenario is that HE 1327-2326's surface abundances have undergone mild depletion (of order 0.2 dex).