The Persistence of Population III Star Formation
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The Persistence of Population III Star Formation

  • Author(s): Mebane, Richard H
  • Mirocha, Jordan
  • Furlanetto, Steven R
  • et al.
Abstract

We present a semi-analytic model of star formation in the early universe, beginning with the first metal-free stars. By employing a completely feedback-limited star formation prescription, stars form at maximum efficiency until the self-consistently calculated feedback processes halt formation. We account for a number of feedback processes including a meta-galactic Lyman-Werner background, supernovae, photoionization, and chemical feedback. Halos are evolved combining mass accretion rates found through abundance matching with our feedback-limited star formation prescription, allowing for a variety of Population III (Pop III) initial mass functions (IMFs). We find that, for a number of models, massive Pop III star formation can continue on until at least $z \sim 20$ and potentially past $z \sim 6$ at rates of around $10^{-4}$ to $10^{-5}$ M$_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$ Mpc$^{-3}$, assuming these stars form in isolation. At this point Lyman-Werner feedback pushes the minimum halo mass for star formation above the atomic cooling threshold, cutting off the formation of massive Pop III stars. We find that, in most models, Pop II and Pop III star formation co-exist over cosmological time-scales, with the total star formation rate density and resulting radiation background strongly dominated by the former before Pop III star formation finally ends. These halos form at most $\sim 10^3$ M$_\odot$ of massive Pop III stars during this phase and typically have absolute magnitudes in the range of $M_\text{AB} = -5 $ to $ -10$. We also briefly discuss how future observations from telescopes such as JWST or WFIRST and 21-cm experiments may be able to constrain unknown parameters in our model such as the IMF, star formation prescription, or the physics of massive Pop III stars.

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