Aims: We address the existence and origin of the lithium (Li) desert, a region in the Li-Teff plane sparsely populated by stars. Here we analyze some of the explanations that have been suggested for this region, including mixing in the late main sequence, a Li dip origin for stars with low Li abundances in the region, and a possible relation with the presence of planets.
Methods: To study the Li desert, we measured the atmospheric parameters and Li abundance of 227 late-F dwarfs and subgiants, chosen to be in the Teff range of the desert and without previous Li abundance measurements. Subsequently, we complemented those with literature data to obtain a homogeneous catalog of 2318 stars, for which we compute masses and ages. We characterize stars surrounding the region of the Li desert.
Results: We conclude that stars with low Li abundances below the desert are more massive and more evolved than stars above the desert. Given the unexpected presence of low Li abundance stars in this effective temperature range, we concentrate on finding their origin. We conclude that these stars with low Li abundance do not evolve from stars above the desert: at a given mass, stars with low Li (i.e., below the desert) are more metal-poor.
Conclusions: Instead, we suggest that stars below the Li desert are consistent with having evolved from the Li dip, discarding the need to invoke additional mixing to explain this feature. Thus, stars below the Li desert are not peculiar and are only distinguished from other subgiants evolved from the Li dip in that their combination of atmospheric parameters locates them in a range of effective temperatures where otherwise only high Li abundance stars would be found (i.e., stars above the desert).