THE age of the Galaxy may be estimated from observations of the ratio of stellar abundances of thorium, which has only one long-lived isotope with a half-life comparable to the suspected age of the Galaxy, and neodymium, a stable element. The Th/Nd abundance ratio in a sample of G-dwarf stars of different ages was derived by Butcher1 from the intensities of one Th II and one Nd II absorption line, and indicated a rather young galactic age of 9.6 Gyr. But the Th II line is blended with a Co I line. Here we determine the transition probability of the Co I line by combining radiative lifetime and branching-ratio measurements. We show that the Co I contribution cannot be neglected in deriving Th/Nd ratios. By comparing our results with predictions based on models of galactic chemical evolution, we suggest a revised age of the Galaxy of 15–20 Gyr.
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Lawler, J., Whaling, W. & Grevesse, N. Contamination of the Th II line and the age of the Galaxy. Nature 346, 635–637 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/346635a0