200 research outputs found

    Was the Universe Reionized by Massive Population-III Stars?

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    The WMAP satellite has measured a large optical depth to electron scattering after cosmological recombination of 0.17+-0.04, implying significant reionization of the primordial gas only ~200 million years after the big bang. However, the most recent overlap of intergalactic HII regions must have occured at z<9 based on the Lyman-alpha forest constraint on the thermal history of the intergalactic medium. Here we argue that a first generation of metal-free stars with a heavy (rather than Salpeter) mass function is therefore required to account for much of the inferred optical depth. This conclusion holds if feedback regulates star formation in early dwarf galaxies as observed in present-day dwarfs.Comment: 4 pages, 1 figure, replaced to match version accepted by ApJ Letter

    Reionization of Hydrogen and Helium by Early Stars and Quasars

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    We compute the reionization histories of hydrogen and helium due to the ionizing radiation fields produced by stars and quasars. For the quasars we use a model based on halo-merger rates that reproduces all known properties of the quasar luminosity function at high redshifts. The less constrained properties of the ionizing radiation produced by stars are modeled with two free parameters: (i) a transition redshift, z_tran, above which the stellar population is dominated by massive, zero-metallicity stars and below which it is dominated by a Scalo mass function; (ii) the product of the escape fraction of stellar ionizing photons from their host galaxies and the star-formation efficiency, f_esc f_*. We constrain the allowed range of these free parameters at high redshifts based on the lack of the HI Gunn-Peterson trough at z<6 and the upper limit on the total intergalactic optical depth for electron scattering, tau_es<0.18, from recent cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments. We find that quasars ionize helium by a redshift z~4, but cannot reionize hydrogen by themselves before z~6. A major fraction of the allowed combinations of f_esc f_* and z_tran lead to an early peak in the ionized fraction due to metal-free stars at high redshifts. This sometimes results in two reionization epochs, namely an early HII or HeIII overlap phase followed by recombination and a second overlap phase. Even if early overlap is not achieved, the peak in the visibility function for scattering of the CMB often coincides with the early ionization phase rather than with the actual reionization epoch. Consequently, tau_es does not correspond directly to the reionization redshift. We generically find values of tau_es>7%, that should be detectable by the MAP satellite.Comment: 33 pages, 10 figures, Accepted for publication in Ap

    Detection of Gravitational Waves from the Coalescence of Population-III Remnants with Advanced LIGO

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    The comoving mass density of massive black hole (MBH) remnants from pre-galactic star formation could have been similar in magnitude to the mass-density of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in the present-day universe. We show that the fraction of MBHs that coalesce during the assembly of SMBHs can be extracted from the rate of ring-down gravitational waves that are detectable by Advanced LIGO. Based on the SMBH formation history inferred from the evolution of the quasar luminosity function, we show that an observed event rate of 1 per year will constrain the SMBH mass fraction that was contributed by MBHs coalescence down to a level of ~10^-6 for 20 solar mass MBH remnants (or ~10^-4 for 260 solar mass remnants).Comment: 4 pages, 2 figures. Submitted to ApJ Letter

    Gravitational Lensing of the SDSS High-Redshift Quasars

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    We predict the effects of gravitational lensing on the color-selected flux-limited samples of z~4.3 and z>5.8 quasars, recently published by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Our main findings are: (i) The lensing probability should be 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than for conventional surveys. The expected fraction of multiply-imaged quasars is highly sensitive to redshift and the uncertain slope of the bright end of the luminosity function, beta_h. For beta_h=2.58 (3.43) we find that at z~4.3 and i*<20.0 the fraction is ~4% (13%) while at z~6 and z*<20.2 the fraction is ~7% (30%). (ii) The distribution of magnifications is heavily skewed; sources having the redshift and luminosity of the SDSS z>5.8 quasars acquire median magnifications of med(mu_obs)~1.1-1.3 and mean magnifications of ~5-50. Estimates of the quasar luminosity density at high redshift must therefore filter out gravitationally-lensed sources. (iii) The flux in the Gunn-Peterson trough of the highest redshift (z=6.28) quasar is known to be f_lambda<3 10^-19 erg/sec/cm^2/Angstrom. Should this quasar be multiply imaged, we estimate a 40% chance that light from the lens galaxy would have contaminated the same part of the quasar spectrum with a higher flux. Hence, spectroscopic studies of the epoch of reionization need to account for the possibility that a lens galaxy, which boosts the quasar flux, also contaminates the Gunn-Peterson trough. (iv) Microlensing by stars should result in ~1/3 of multiply imaged quasars in the z>5.8 catalog varying by more than 0.5 magnitudes over the next decade. The median equivalent width would be lowered by ~20% with respect to the intrinsic value due to differential magnification of the continuum and emission-line regions.Comment: 27 pages, 10 figures. Expansion on the discussion in astro-ph/0203116. Replaced with version accepted for publication in Ap

    Lyman Alpha Constraints on Very Low Luminosity AGN

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    Recent surveys have detected Lya emission from z=4.5-6.5 at luminosities as low as 10^41 erg/s. There is good evidence that low numbers of AGN are among observed faint Lya emitters. Combining these observations with an empirical relation between the intrinsic Lya and B-band luminosities of AGN, we obtain an upper limit on the number density of AGN with absolute magnitudes M_B=[-16,-19] at z=4.5-6.5. These AGN are up to two orders of magnitude fainter than those discovered in the Chandra Deep Field, resulting in the faintest observational constraints to date at these redshifts. At z=4.5, the powerlaw slope of the very faint end of the luminosity function of AGN is shallower than the slope observed at lower redshifts, beta <1.6, at the 98% confidence level. In fact, we find marginal evidence that the luminosity function rises with luminosity, corresponding to a powerlaw slope beta <0, at magnitudes fainter than M_B~-20 (75% confidence level). These results suggest either that accretion onto lower mass black holes is less efficient than onto their more massive counterparts, or that the number of black holes powering AGN with M_B >-20 is lower than expected from the M_BH-sigma relation by one-two orders of magnitude. Extrapolating from reverberation-mapping studies suggests that these black holes would have M_BH=10^6-10^7 Msun. To facilitate the identification of AGN among observed Lya emitters, we derive observational properties of faint AGN in the Lya line, as well as in the X-ray and optical bands.Comment: 12 pages, 5 figures. MNRAS in Pres
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