218 research outputs found

    The Formation of the First Galaxies

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    The primary concern of this thesis is to understand the formation and properties of the first galaxies, as well as the influence of the first stars in terms of radiative, mechanical and chemical feedback. In particular, we elucidate the role of turbulence, ionizing radiation by massive Population III stars, mechanical feedback by highly energetic supernovae, and chemical enrichment. In light of the next generation of ground- and space based telescopes, we derive their observational signature in terms of recombination radiation, bremsstrahlung and 21 cm emission. We find that the cumulative 21 cm signal of the first H II regions will likely be observable by the planned SKA, while the recombination radiation from the first starbursts might be observable by JWST. These probes are essential to test the theoretical framework of the first stars and galaxies and shed some light on this elusive period of cosmic history.Comment: Ph. D. Thesis, University of Heidelberg, 2009, 212 pages, 55 figures, pdf available at http://www.ita.uni-heidelberg.de/~tgreif/thesis.shtml?lang=e

    Multifrequency radiation hydrodynamics simulations of H2 line emission in primordial, star-forming clouds

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    We investigate the collapse of primordial gas in a minihalo with three-dimensional radiation hydrodynamics simulations that accurately model the transfer of H2 line emission. For this purpose, we have implemented a multiline, multifrequency ray-tracing scheme in the moving-mesh code Arepo that is capable of adaptively refining rays based on the Healpix algorithm, as well as a hybrid equilibrium/non-equilibrium primordial chemistry solver. We find that a multifrequency treatment of the individual H2 lines is essential, since for high optical depths the smaller cross-section in the wings of the lines greatly increases the amount of energy that can escape. The influence of Doppler shifts due to bulk velocities is comparatively small, since systematic velocity differences in the cloud are typically smaller than the sound speed. During the initial collapse phase, the radially averaged escape fraction agrees relatively well with the fit of Ripamonti & Abel. However, in general it is not advisable to use a simple density-dependent fitting function, since the escape fraction depends on many factors and does not capture the suppression of density perturbations due to the diffusion of radiation. The Sobolev method overestimates the escape fraction by more than an order of magnitude, since the properties of the gas change on scales smaller than the Sobolev length.Comment: 19 pages, 1 table, 10 figures, published in MNRA

    On the operation of the chemothermal instability in primordial star-forming clouds

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    We investigate the operation of the chemothermal instability in primordial star-forming clouds with a suite of three-dimensional, moving-mesh simulations. In line with previous studies, we find that the gas at the centre of high-redshift minihaloes becomes chemothermally unstable as three-body reactions convert the atomic hydrogen into a fully molecular gas. The competition between the increasing rate at which the gas cools and the increasing optical depth to H2 line emission creates a characteristic dip in the cooling time over the free-fall time on a scale of 100 au. As a result, the free-fall time decreases to below the sound-crossing time, and the cloud may become gravitationally unstable and fragment on a scale of a few tens of au during the initial free-fall phase. In three of the nine haloes investigated, secondary clumps condense out of the parent cloud, which will likely collapse in their own right before they are accreted by the primary clump. In the other haloes, fragmentation at such an early stage is less likely. However, given that previous simulations have shown that the infall velocity decreases substantially once the gas becomes rotationally supported, the amount of time available for perturbations to develop may be much greater than is evident from the limited period of time simulated here.Comment: 17 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS, simulation movie available at http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~tgrei

    Towards the First Galaxies

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    The formation of the first galaxies at redshifts z~10-15 signaled the transition from the simple initial state of the universe to one of ever increasing complexity. We here review recent progress in understanding their assembly process with numerical simulations, starting with cosmological initial conditions and modelling the detailed physics of star formation. In particular, we study the role of HD cooling in ionized primordial gas, the impact of UV radiation produced by the first stars, and the propagation of the supernova blast waves triggered at the end of their brief lives. We conclude by discussing promising observational diagnostics that will allow us to probe the properties of the first galaxies, such as their contribution to reionization and the chemical abundance pattern observed in extremely low-metallicity stars.Comment: 12 pages, 14 figures, appeared in "First Stars III", eds. B. O'Shea, A. Heger and T. Abel, a high resolution version (highly recommended) can be found at http://www.ita.uni-heidelberg.de/~tgreif/files/gjb07.pd

    Two populations of metal-free stars in the early Universe

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    We construct star formation histories at redshifts z > 5 for two physically distinct populations of primordial, metal-free stars, motivated by theoretical and observational arguments that have hinted towards the existence of an intermediate stellar generation between Population III and Population I/II. Taking into account the cosmological parameters as recently revised by WMAP after three years of operation, we determine self-consistent reionization histories and discuss the resulting chemical enrichment from these early stellar generations. We find that the bulk of ionizing photons and heavy elements produced at high redshifts must have originated in Population II.5 stars, which formed out of primordial gas in haloes with virial temperatures >= 10^4 K, and had typical masses >= 10 M_sun. Classical Population III stars, formed in minihaloes and having masses >= 100 M_sun, on the other hand, had only a minor impact on reionization and early metal enrichment. Specifically, we find that only 10 per cent by mass of metal-free star formation went into Population III.Comment: 12 pages, 7 figures, 1 table, published in MNRA
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