869 research outputs found

    Formation of the First Stars and Quasars

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    We review observable signatures of the first generation of stars and low-luminosity quasars, including the metal enrichment, radiation background, and dust opacity/emission that they produce. We compute the formation history of collapsed baryonic halos based on an extension of the Press-Schechter formalism, incorporating the effects of pressure and H2-dissociation, and calibrate this history to observational data at redshifts z<5. To be consistent with the lack of faint point-sources in the Hubble Deep Field, we introduce a lower limit of 75 km/s for the circular velocities of halos harboring central black holes. Based on our models, we predict that future satellite instruments such as MAP, Planck, and NGST will be able to detect the signatures small star clusters and low-luminosity quasars at redshifts exceeding z=10.Comment: 10 pages, 5 figures included. Invited talk at the 32nd COSPAR Scientific Assemby, 15-17 July, 1998, Nagoya, Japan; to appear in Adv. of Space Researc

    Testing the binary hypothesis: pulsar timing constraints on supermassive black hole binary candidates

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    The advent of time domain astronomy is revolutionizing our understanding of the Universe. Programs such as the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CRTS) or the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) surveyed millions of objects for several years, allowing variability studies on large statistical samples. The inspection of \approx250k quasars in CRTS resulted in a catalogue of 111 potentially periodic sources, put forward as supermassive black hole binary (SMBHB) candidates. A similar investigation on PTF data yielded 33 candidates from a sample of \approx35k quasars. Working under the SMBHB hypothesis, we compute the implied SMBHB merger rate and we use it to construct the expected gravitational wave background (GWB) at nano-Hz frequencies, probed by pulsar timing arrays (PTAs). After correcting for incompleteness and assuming virial mass estimates, we find that the GWB implied by the CRTS sample exceeds the current most stringent PTA upper limits by almost an order of magnitude. After further correcting for the implicit bias in virial mass measurements, the implied GWB drops significantly but is still in tension with the most stringent PTA upper limits. Similar results hold for the PTF sample. Bayesian model selection shows that the null hypothesis (whereby the candidates are false positives) is preferred over the binary hypothesis at about 2.3σ2.3\sigma and 3.6σ3.6\sigma for the CRTS and PTF samples respectively. Although not decisive, our analysis highlights the potential of PTAs as astrophysical probes of individual SMBHB candidates and indicates that the CRTS and PTF samples are likely contaminated by several false positives.Comment: 14 pages, 11 figures, 3 tables. Resubmitted to the Astrophysical Journal after some major revision of the results including a proper estimate of the intrinsic mass of the binary candidate

    Effects of the complex mass distribution of dark matter halos on weak lensing cluster surveys

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    Gravitational lensing effects arise from the light ray deflection by all of the mass distribution along the line of sight. It is then expected that weak lensing cluster surveys can provide us true mass-selected cluster samples. With numerical simulations, we analyze the correspondence between peaks in the lensing convergence κ\kappa-map and dark matter halos. Particularly we emphasize the difference between the peak κ\kappa value expected from a dark matter halo modeled as an isolated and spherical one, which exhibits a one-to-one correspondence with the halo mass at a given redshift, and that of the associated κ\kappa-peak from simulations. For halos with the same expected κ\kappa, their corresponding peak signals in the κ\kappa-map present a wide dispersion. At an angular smoothing scale of θG=1arcmin\theta_G=1\hbox{arcmin}, our study shows that for relatively large clusters, the complex mass distribution of individual clusters is the main reason for the dispersion. The projection effect of uncorrelated structures does not play significant roles. The triaxiality of dark matter halos accounts for a large part of the dispersion, especially for the tail at high κ\kappa side. Thus lensing-selected clusters are not really mass-selected. (abridged)Comment: ApJ accepte

    A smoother end to the dark ages

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    Independent lines of evidence suggest that the first stars, which ended the cosmic dark ages, came in pairs, rather than singly. This could change the prevailing view that the early Universe had a Swiss-cheese-like appearance.Comment: Nature News and Views, April 7, 201