Volker Bromm

University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, United States

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Publications (162)813.34 Total impact

  • Alexander P. Ji · Anna Frebel · Volker Bromm
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    ABSTRACT: We model early star forming regions and their chemical enrichment by Population III (Pop III) supernovae with nucleosynthetic yields featuring high [C/Fe] ratios and pair-instability supernova (PISN) signatures. We aim to test how well these chemical abundance signatures are preserved in the gas prior to forming the first long-lived low-mass stars (or second-generation stars). Our results show that second-generation stars can retain the nucleosynthetic signature of their Pop III progenitors, even in the presence of nucleosynthetically normal Pop III core-collapse supernovae. We find that carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars are likely second-generation stars that form in minihaloes. Furthermore, it is likely that the majority of Pop III supernovae produce high [C/Fe] yields. In contrast, metals ejected by a PISN are not concentrated in the first star forming haloes, which may explain the absence of observed PISN signatures in metal-poor stars. We also find that unique Pop III abundance signatures in the gas are quickly wiped out by the emergence of Pop II supernovae. We caution that the observed fractions of stars with Pop III signatures cannot be directly interpreted as the fraction of Pop III stars producing that signature. Such interpretations require modelling the metal enrichment process prior to the second-generation stars' formation, including results from simulations of metal mixing. The full potential of stellar archaeology can likely be reached in ultra-faint dwarf galaxies, where the simple formation history may allow for straightforward identification of second-generation stars.
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    ABSTRACT: We present the Cosmic Lyman α Transfer code, a massively parallel Monte Carlo radiative transfer code, to simulate Lyman α (Lyα) resonant scattering through neutral hydrogen as a probe of the first galaxies. We explore the interaction of centrally produced Lyα radiation with the host galactic environment. Lyα photons emitted from the luminous starburst region escape with characteristic features in the line profile depending on the density distribution, ionization structure, and bulk velocity fields. For example, anisotropic ionization exhibits a tall peak close to line centre with a skewed tail that drops off gradually. Idealized models of first galaxies explore the effect of mass, anisotropic H II regions, and radiation pressure driven winds on Lyα observables. We employ mesh refinement to resolve critical structures. We also post-process an ab initio cosmological simulation and examine images captured at various distances within the 1 Mpc3 comoving volume. Finally, we discuss the emergent spectra and surface brightness profiles of these objects in the context of high-z observations. The first galaxies will likely be observed through the red damping wing of the Lyα line. Observations will be biased towards galaxies with an intrinsic red peak located far from line centre that reside in extensive H II super bubbles, which allows Hubble flow to sufficiently redshift photons away from line centre and facilitate transmission through the intergalactic medium. Even with gravitational lensing to boost the luminosity this preliminary work indicates that Lyα emission from stellar clusters within haloes of Mvir 〈 109 M☉ is generally too faint to be detected by the James Webb Space Telescope.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2015; 449(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv565 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a simulation of the long-term evolution of a Population III supernova remnant in a cosmological minihalo. Employing passive Lagrangian tracer particles, we investigate how chemical stratification and anisotropy in the explosion can affect the abundances of the first low-mass, metal-enriched stars. We find that reverse shock heating can leave the inner mass shells at entropies too high to cool, leading to carbon-enhancement in the re-collapsing gas. This hydrodynamic selection effect could explain the observed incidence of carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars at low metallicity. We further explore how anisotropic ejecta distributions, recently seen in direct numerical simulations of core-collapse explosions, may translate to abundances in metal-poor stars. We find that some of the observed scatter in the Population II abundance ratios can be explained by an incomplete mixing of supernova ejecta, even in the case of only one contributing enrichment event. We demonstrate that the customary hypothesis of fully-mixed ejecta clearly fails if post-explosion hydrodynamics prefers the recycling of some nucleosynthetic products over others. Furthermore, to fully exploit the stellar-archaeological program of constraining the Pop III initial mass function from the observed Pop II abundances, considering these hydrodynamical transport effects is crucial. We discuss applications to the rich chemical structure of ultra-faint dwarf satellite galaxies, to be probed in unprecedented detail with upcoming spectroscopic surveys.
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of the stellar feedback from Population III (Pop III) binaries by employing improved, more realistic Pop III evolutionary stellar models. To facilitate a meaningful comparison, we consider a fixed mass of incorporated in Pop III stars, either contained in a single star, or split up in binary stars of each or an asymmetric case of one and one star. Whereas the sizes of the resulting H ii regions are comparable across all cases, the He iii regions around binary stars are significantly smaller than that of the single star. Consequently, the He+ 1640 recombination line is expected to become much weaker. Supernova (SN) feedback exhibits great variety due to the uncertainty in possible explosion pathways. If at least one of the component stars dies as a hypernova about 10 times more energetic than conventional core-collapse SNe, the gas inside the host minihalo is effectively blown out, chemically enriching the intergalactic medium (IGM) to an average metallicity of , out to . The single star, however, is more likely to collapse into a black hole, accompanied by at most very weak explosions. The effectiveness of early chemical enrichment would thus be significantly reduced, in contrast to the lower mass binary stars, where at least one component is likely to contribute to heavy element production and dispersal. Important new feedback physics is also introduced if close binaries can form high-mass X-ray binaries, leading to the pre-heating and -ionization of the IGM beyond the extent of the stellar H ii regions.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2015; 802(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/802/1/13 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We simulate the formation of a low metallicity (0.01 Zsun) stellar cluster in a dwarf galaxy at redshift z~14. Beginning with cosmological initial conditions, the simulation utilizes adaptive mesh refinement and sink particles to follow the collapse and evolution of gas past the opacity limit for fragmentation, thus resolving the formation of individual protostellar cores. A time- and location-dependent protostellar radiation field, which heats the gas by absorption on dust, is computed by integration of protostellar evolutionary tracks with the MESA code. The simulation also includes a robust non-equilibrium chemical network that self-consistently treats gas thermodynamics and dust-gas coupling. The system is evolved for 18 kyr after the first protostellar source has formed. In this time span, 30 sink particles representing protostellar cores form with a total mass of 81 Msun. Their masses range from ~0.1 Msun to 14.4 Msun with a median mass ~0.5-1 Msun. Massive protostars grow by competitive accretion while lower-mass protostars are stunted in growth by close encounters and many-body ejections. In the regime explored here, the characteristic mass scale is determined by the temperature floor set by the cosmic microwave background and by the onset of efficient dust-gas coupling. It seems unlikely that host galaxies of the first bursts of metal-enriched star formation will be detectable with the James Webb Space Telescope or other next-generation infrared observatories. Instead, the most promising access route to the dawn of cosmic star formation may lie in the scrutiny of metal-poor, ancient stellar populations in the Galactic neighborhood. The observable targets that correspond to the system simulated here are ultra-faint dwarf satellite galaxies such as Bootes II, Segue I and II, and Willman I.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the formation of a galaxy reaching a virial mass of ~10^8 at z~10 by carrying out a zoomed radiation-hydrodynamical cosmological simulation. This simulation traces Population~III (Pop~III) star formation, characterized by a modestly top-heavy initial mass function (IMF), and considers stellar feedback such as photoionization heating from Pop~III and Population~II (Pop~II) stars, mechanical and chemical feedback from supernovae (SNe), and X-ray feedback from accreting black holes (BHs) and high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs). We self-consistently impose a transition in star formation mode from top-heavy Pop~III to low-mass Pop~II at the critical metallicity Zcrit=10^{-3.5} solar metallicity. We find that the star formation rate in the computational box is dominated by Pop~III until z~13, and by Pop~II thereafter. The intergalactic medium (IGM) is metal-enriched to an average of Zavg=10^{-4} solar metallicity at z~10, mainly by pair-instability SNe (PISNe), while 70% of the produced Pop~III stars die in core-collapse SNe (CCSNe). The simulated galaxy experiences bursty star formation, with a substantially reduced gas content due to photoionization heating from Pop~III and Pop~II stars, together with SN feedback. Specifically, this gives rise to a baryon fraction of fbar=0.05 at z~10. All the gas within the simulated galaxy is metal-enriched above 10^{-5}\zsun, such that there are no remaining pockets of primordial gas. We further estimate the intrinsic luminosity of the simulated galaxy to be L_Bol ~ 5 x 10^6 solar luminosity, corresponding to an observed flux of ~ 10^{-3} nJy, which is too low to be detected by the JWST. We also show that our simulated galaxy falls below the observed relation between mean stellar metallicity and total stellar mass for local dwarf galaxies by ~ 1 dex, although this may be an artefact of having missed any subsequent star formation at z <10.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2015; 452(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv1353 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a new near-field cosmological probe of the initial mass function (IMF) of the first stars. Specifically, we constrain the lower-mass limit of the Population III (Pop III) IMF with the total number of stars in large, unbiased surveys of the Milky Way bulge and halo. We model the early star formation history in a Milky-Way like halo with a semi-analytic approach, based on Monte-Carlo sampling of dark matter merger trees, combined with a treatment of the most important feedback mechanisms, such as stellar radiation and metal enrichment. Assuming a logarithmically flat Pop III IMF and varying its low mass limit, we derive the number of expected survivors of these first stars, using them to estimate the probability to detect any such Pop III fossil in stellar archaeological surveys. Our model parameters are calibrated with existing empirical constraints, such as the optical depth to Thomson scattering. Following our analysis, the most promising region to find possible Pop III survivors is the stellar halo of the Milky Way, which is the best target for future surveys. We find that if no genuine Pop III survivor is detected in a sample size, of $4 \times 10^6$ ($2 \times 10^7$) halo stars with well-controlled selection effects, then we can exclude the hypothesis that the primordial IMF extended down below $0.8 M_\odot$ at a confidence level of 68% (99%). With the sample size of the Hamburg/ESO survey, we can tentatively exclude Pop III stars with masses below $0.65 M_\odot$ with a confidence level of 95%, although this is subject to significant uncertainties. To fully harness the potential of our approach, future large surveys are needed that employ uniform, unbiased selection strategies for high-resolution spectroscopic follow-up.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2014; 447(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2740 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the Cosmic Lyman-$\alpha$ Transfer code (COLT), a new massively parallel Monte-Carlo radiative transfer code, to simulate Lyman-$\alpha$ (Ly$\alpha$) resonant scattering through neutral hydrogen as a probe of the first galaxies. We explore the interaction of centrally produced Ly$\alpha$ radiation with the host galactic environment. The Ly$\alpha$ photons emitted from the luminous starburst region escape with characteristic features in the line profile depending on the density distribution, ionization structure, and bulk velocity fields. For example, the presence of anisotropic ionization exhibits a tall peak close to line centre with a skewed tail that drops off gradually. Furthermore, moderate (~10 km/s) outflow produces an amplified peak redward of line centre. Idealized models of first galaxies explore the effect of mass, anisotropic H II regions, and radiation pressure driven winds on Ly$\alpha$ observables. We employ mesh refinement to resolve critical structures. We also post-process an ab initio cosmological simulation and examine images captured at various escape distances within the 1 Mpc$^3$ comoving volume. Finally, we discuss the emergent spectra and surface brightness profiles of these objects in the context of high-$z$ observations. The first galaxies will likely be observed through the red damping wing of the Ly$\alpha$ line. Observations will be biased toward galaxies with an intrinsic red peak located far from line centre that reside in extensive H II super bubbles, which allows Hubble flow to sufficiently redshift photons away from line centre and thereby facilitate transmission through the intergalactic medium (IGM). Even with gravitational lensing to boost the luminosity we predict that Ly$\alpha$ emission from stellar clusters within haloes of $M_{\rm vir}<10^9~{\rm M}_\odot$ is generally too faint to be detected by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
  • Volker Bromm
    Science 08/2014; 345(6199):868-9. DOI:10.1126/science.1255524 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To constrain the properties of the first stars with the chemical abundance patterns observed in metal-poor stars, one must identify any non-trivial effects that the hydrodynamics of metal dispersal can imprint on the abundances. We use realistic cosmological hydrodynamic simulations to quantify the distribution of metals resulting from one Population III supernova and from a small number of such supernovae. Overall, supernova ejecta remain highly inhomogeneous throughout the simulations. When the supernova bubbles collapse, quasi-virialized metal-enriched clouds, fed by fallback from the bubbles and by streaming of metal-free gas from the cosmic web, grow in the centers of the dark matter halos. Partial turbulent homogenization on scales resolved in the simulation is observed in the clouds, and the vortical time scales are short enough to ensure true homogenization on subgrid scales. However, the abundances in the clouds differ from the gross yields of the supernovae. Continuing the simulations until the cloud have gone into gravitational collapse, we predict that the abundances in second-generation stars will be deficient in the innermost mass shells of the supernova (if only one has exploded) or in the ejecta of the latest supernovae (when multiple have exploded). This indicates that hydrodynamics gives rise to biases complicating linear mapping between nucleosynthetic sources and abundance patterns in surviving stars.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 08/2014; 451(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv982 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of the stellar feedback from Pop~III binaries by employing improved, more realistic Pop~III evolutionary stellar models. To facilitate a meaningful comparison, we consider a fixed mass of 60 solar masses (Msun) incorporated in Pop~III stars, either contained in a single star, or split up in binary stars of 30 Msun each or an asymmetric case of one 45 Msun and one 15 Msun star. Whereas the sizes of the resulting HII regions are comparable across all cases, the HeIII regions around binary stars are significantly smaller than that of the single star. Consequently, the He$^{+}$ 1640 angstrom recombination line is expected to become much weaker. Supernova feedback exhibits great variety due to the uncertainty in possible explosion pathways. If at least one of the component stars dies as a hypernova about ten times more energetic than conventional core-collapse supernovae, the gas inside the host minihalo is effectively blown out, chemically enriching the intergalactic medium (IGM) to an average metallicity of $10^{-4}-10^{-3}$ solar metallicity (Zsun), out to $\sim 2$ kpc. The single star, however, is more likely to collapse into a black hole, accompanied by at most very weak explosions. The effectiveness of early chemical enrichment would thus be significantly reduced, in difference from the lower mass binary stars, where at least one component is likely to contribute to heavy element production and dispersal. Important new feedback physics is also introduced if close binaries can form high-mass x-ray binaries, leading to the pre-heating and -ionization of the IGM beyond the extent of the stellar HII regions.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the impact of an ionising X-ray background on metal-free Population III stars within a minihalo at $z\simeq25$ starting from cosmological initial conditions. Using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics code GADGET-2, we attain sufficient numerical resolution to follow the gas collapsing into the centre of the minihalo up to densities of $n=10^{12}\,cm^{-3}$, at which point we form sink particles. This allows us to study how the presence of a cosmic X-ray background (CXB) affects the formation of H$_2$ and HD in the gas before it becomes fully molecular. Using a suite of simulations for a range of possible CXB models, we follow each simulation for 5000 yr after the formation of the first sink particle. The CXB provides two competing effects, with X-rays both heating the gas and enhancing its ability to cool by increasing the free electron fraction, allowing more H$_2$ to form. We find that X-ray heating dominates below $n\sim1\,cm^{-3}$, while the additional cooling catalysed by X-ray ionisation becomes more important above $n\sim10^2\,cm^{-3}$. Heating the gas impedes its collapse, decreasing the total amount of gas available for star formation. However if the CXB is strong enough, the gas that does collapse cools sufficiently to activate HD cooling, leading to further cooling and fragmentation. If at the same time the CXB is also not so strong as to choke off the supply of gas collapsing into the halo, this additional cooling allows more of the available gas to collapse to high densities, counteracting the effects of X-ray heating at low densities and increasing both the total mass and number of sink particles dramatically. This leads to a `Goldilocks' range of CXB strengths for which fragmentation increases significantly, from 2-3 sink particles to 10; continuing to increase the CXB chokes off the gas supply and suppresses both sink formation and fragmentation.
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    ABSTRACT: We use cosmological simulations to assess how the explosion of the first stars in supernovae (SNe) influences early cosmic history. Specifically, we investigate the impact by SNe on the host systems for Population III (Pop III) star formation and explore its dependence on halo environment and Pop III progenitor mass. We then trace the evolution of the enriched gas until conditions are met to trigger second-generation star formation. To this extent, we quantify the recovery timescale, which measures the time delay between a Pop III SN explosion and the appearance of cold, dense gas, out of which second-generation stars can form. We find that this timescale is highly sensitive to the Pop III progenitor mass, and less so to the halo environment. For Pop III progenitor masses M < 40 solar mass, recovery is prompt, ~ 10 Myr. For more massive progenitors, including those exploding in pair instability SNe, second-generation star formation is delayed significantly, for up to a Hubble time. The dependence of the recovery time on the mass of the SN progenitor is mainly due to the ionizing impact of the progenitor star. Photoionization heating increases the gas pressure and initiates a hydrodynamical response that reduces the central gas density, an effect that is stronger in more massive and hence more luminous progenitors. The gas around lower mass Pop III stars remains therefore denser and hence the SN remnants cool more rapidly, facilitating the subsequent re-condensation of the gas and formation of a second generation of stars. In most cases, the second-generation stars are already metal-enriched, thus belonging to Population II. The recovery timescale is a key quantity governing the nature of the first galaxies, able to host low-mass, long-lived stellar systems. These in turn are the target of future deep-field campaigns with the James Webb Space Telescope.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2014; 444(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1980 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We simulate the formation of a metal-poor ($10^{-2}\,Z_{\odot}$) stellar cluster in one of the first galaxies to form in the early Universe, specifically a high-redshift atomic cooling halo ($z\sim14$). This is the first calculation that resolves the formation of individual metal-enriched stars in simulations starting from realistic cosmological initial conditions. We follow the evolution of a single dense clump among several in the parent halo. The clump forms a cluster of $\sim40$ stars and sub-stellar objects within $7000$ yrs and could continue forming stars $\sim5$ times longer. Protostellar dust heating has a negligible effect on the star formation efficiency, at least during the early evolutionary stages, but it moderately suppresses gaseous fragmentation and brown dwarf formation. We observe fragmentation in thin gaseous filaments and sustained accretion in larger, rotating structures as well as ejections by binary interactions. The stellar initial mass function above $0.1\,M_{\odot}$, evaluated after $\sim10^4$ yrs of fragmentation and accretion, seems in agreement with the recent measurement in ultra-faint dwarf spheroidal Galactic satellites of Geha et al. (2013).
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    ABSTRACT: We use cosmological simulations of high-redshift minihalos to investigate the effect of dark matter annihilation (DMA) on the collapse of primordial gas. We numerically investigate the evolution of the gas as it assembles in a Population III stellar disk. We find that when DMA effects are neglected, the disk undergoes multiple fragmentation events beginning at ~ 500 yr after the appearance of the first protostar. On the other hand, DMA heating and ionization of the gas speeds the initial collapse of gas to protostellar densities and also affects the stability of the developing disk against fragmentation, depending on the DM distribution. We compare the evolution when we model the DM density with an analytical DM profile which remains centrally peaked, and when we simulate the DM profile using N-body particles (the 'live' DM halo). When utilizing the analytical DM profile, DMA suppresses disk fragmentation for ~ 3500 yr after the first protostar forms, in agreement with earlier work. However, when using a 'live' DM halo, the central DM density peak is gradually flattened due to the mutual interaction between the DM and the rotating gaseous disk, reducing the effects of DMA on the gas, and enabling secondary protostars of mass ~ 1 M_sol to be formed within ~ 900 yr. These simulations demonstrate that DMA is ineffective in suppressing gas collapse and subsequent fragmentation, rendering the formation of long-lived dark stars unlikely. However, DMA effects may still be significant in the early collapse and disk formation phase of primordial gas evolution.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 12/2013; 441(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu621 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    Volker Bromm
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the formation of the first stars is one of the frontier topics in modern astrophysics and cosmology. Their emergence signalled the end of the cosmic dark ages, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, leading to a fundamental transformation of the early Universe through the production of ionizing photons and the initial enrichment with heavy chemical elements. We here review the state of our knowledge, separating the well understood elements of our emerging picture from those where more work is required. Primordial star formation is unique in that its initial conditions can be directly inferred from the Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model of cosmological structure formation. Combined with gas cooling that is mediated via molecular hydrogen, one can robustly identify the regions of primordial star formation, the so-called minihalos, having total masses of ∼10(6) M⊙ and collapsing at redshifts z ≃ 20-30. Within this framework, a number of studies have defined a preliminary standard model, with the main result that the first stars were predominantly massive. This model has recently been modified to include a ubiquitous mode of fragmentation in the protostellar disks, such that the typical outcome of primordial star formation may be the formation of a binary or small multiple stellar system. We will also discuss extensions to this standard picture due to the presence of dynamically significant magnetic fields, of heating from self-annihalating WIMP dark matter, or cosmic rays. We conclude by discussing possible strategies to empirically test our theoretical models. Foremost among them are predictions for the upcoming James Webb space telescope (JWST), to be launched ∼2018, and for 'stellar archaeology', which probes the abundance pattern in the oldest, most-metal poor stars in our cosmic neighborhood, thereby constraining the nucleosynthesis inside the first supernovae.
    Reports on Progress in Physics 10/2013; 76(11):112901. DOI:10.1088/0034-4885/76/11/112901 · 15.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent work suggests that the first generation of stars, the so-called Population III (Pop III), could have formed primarily in binaries or as members of small multiple systems. Here we investigate the impact of X-ray feedback from High-Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXBs) left behind in stellar binary systems after the primary forms a black hole (BH), accreting gas at a high rate from the companion, a process that is thought to be favored at the low metallicities characteristic of high-redshift gas. Thanks to their large mean free path, X-rays are capable of preionizing and preheating the gas in the intergalactic medium (IGM) and in haloes long before the reionization of the Universe is complete, and thus could have strongly affected the formation of subsequent generations of stars as well as reionization. We have carried out zoomed hydrodynamical cosmological simulations of minihaloes, accounting for the formation of Pop III stars and their collapse into BHs and HMXBs, and the associated radiation-hydrodynamic feedback from UV and X-ray photons. We find no strong net feedback from HMXBs on the simulated star formation history. On the other hand, the preheating of the IGM by HMXBs leads to a strong suppression of small-scale structures and significantly lowers the recombination rate in the IGM, thus yielding a net positive feedback on reionization. We further show that X-ray feedback from HMXBs can augment the ionizing feedback from the Pop III progenitor stars to suppress gas accretion onto the first BHs, limiting their growth into supermassive BHs. Finally, we show that X-ray ionization by HMXBs leaves distinct signatures in the properties of the high-redshift hydrogen that may be probed in upcoming observations of the redshifted 21cm spin-flip line.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 10/2013; 440(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu444 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    Alexander Pung Ji · Anna L. Frebel · Volker Bromm
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the impact of dust-induced gas fragmentation on the formation of the first low-mass, metal-poor stars (< 1M_sun) in the early universe. Previous work has posited the existence of a critical dust-to-gas ratio, below which dust thermal cooling is unable to cause fragmentation. Using silicon-based (rather than carbon-based) dust compositions, we compute such critical dust-to-gas ratios and associated critical silicon abundances. We evaluate the robustness of these critical values by considering variations in the dust chemical composition, grain size distribution, and star formation environment. Variations in the dust chemical composition are less important than variations in the size distribution, and the most likely environment where dust cooling becomes significant is in a rotationally supported protostellar disk. We test the dust cooling theory by comparing to silicon abundances observed in metal-poor stars. Several stars have silicon abundances low enough to rule out fragmentation induced by dust which follows a standard Milky Way grain size distribution. Moreover, two of the most iron-poor stars have such low silicon abundances that even dust with a shocked grain size distribution cannot easily explain their formation. We see evidence that stars with [Fe/H] < -4.0 exhibit either high carbon and low silicon abundances or the reverse. This suggests that the earliest low-mass star formation in the most metal-poor regime likely proceeded through two distinct pathways, one that relied on fine structure cooling and one that relied on dust cooling. This naturally explains both the carbon-rich and carbon-normal stars at extremely low [Fe/H].
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 782(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/782/2/95 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Population III stars are believed to have been more massive than typical stars today and to have formed in relative isolation. The thermodynamic impact of metals is expected to induce a transition leading to clustered, low-mass Population II star formation. In this work, we present results from three cosmological simulations, only differing in gas metallicity, that focus on the impact of metal fine-structure line cooling on the formation of stellar clusters in a high-redshift atomic cooling halo. Introduction of sink particles allows us to follow the process of gas hydrodynamics and accretion onto cluster stars for 4 Myr corresponding to multiple local free-fall times. At metallicities at least 10^-3 Zsun, gas is able to reach the CMB temperature floor and fragment pervasively resulting in a stellar cluster of size ~1 pc and total mass ~1000 Msun. The masses of individual sink particles vary, but are typically ~100 Msun, consistent with the Jeans mass when gas cools to the CMB temperature, though some solar mass fragments are also produced. At the low metallicity of 10^-4 Zsun, fragmentation is completely suppressed on scales greater than 0.01 pc and total stellar mass is lower by a factor of 3 than in the higher metallicity simulations. The sink particle accretion rates, and thus their masses, are determined by the mass of the gravitationally unstable gas cloud and the prolonged gas accretion over many Myr. The simulations thus exhibit features of both monolithic collapse and competitive accretion. Even considering possible dust induced fragmentation that would occur at higher densities, the formation of a bona fide stellar cluster seems to require metal line cooling and metallicities of at least 10^-3 Zsun.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 07/2013; 438(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stt2307 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    Athena Stacy · Volker Bromm
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    ABSTRACT: We perform numerical simulations of the growth of a Population III stellar system under photodissociating feedback. We start from cosmological initial conditions at z = 100, self-consistently following the formation of a minihalo at z = 15 and the subsequent collapse of its central gas to high densities. The simulations resolve scales as small as ~ 1 AU, corresponding to gas densities of 10^16 cm^-3. Using sink particles to represent the growing protostars, we evolve the stellar system for the next 5000 years. We find that this emerging stellar group accretes at an unusually low rate compared with minihalos which form at earlier times (z = 20 - 30), or with lower baryonic angular momentum. The stars in this unusual system will likely reach masses ranging from < 1 M_sun to 5 M_sun by the end of their main-sequence lifetimes, placing them in the mass range for which stars will undergo an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase. Based upon the simulation, we predict the existence of Population III stars that have survived to the present day and have been enriched by mass overflow from a previous AGB companion.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 785(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/785/1/73 · 6.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
813.34 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2015
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
      Duluth, Minnesota, United States
  • 2004–2015
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Astronomy
      Austin, Texas, United States
  • 2013
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States
  • 2010
    • Stanford University
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2007
    • Universität Heidelberg
      • Institute of Theoretical Physics
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2002–2004
    • Harvard University
      • Department of Astronomy
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • University of Cambridge
      • Institute of Astronomy
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2001–2004
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Exeter
      Exeter, England, United Kingdom
    • National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
      • Division of Theoretical Astronomy
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 1998–2002
    • Yale University
      • Department of Astronomy
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States