The Formation of Primordial Luminous Objects

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The scientific belief that the universe evolves in time is one of the legacies of the theory of the Big Bang. The concept that the universe has an history started to attract the interest of cosmologists soon after the first formulation of the theory: already Gamow (1948; 1949) investigated how and when galaxies could have been formed in the context of the expanding Universe. However, the specific topic of the formation (and of the fate) of the first objects dates to two decades later, when no objects with metallicities as low as those predicted by primordial nucleosynthesis (Z {approx}< 10{sup ... continued below

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51 pages

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Ripamonti, Emanuele; /Kapteyn Astron. Inst., Groningen; Abel, Tom & /KIPAC, Menlo Park August 4, 2005.

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The scientific belief that the universe evolves in time is one of the legacies of the theory of the Big Bang. The concept that the universe has an history started to attract the interest of cosmologists soon after the first formulation of the theory: already Gamow (1948; 1949) investigated how and when galaxies could have been formed in the context of the expanding Universe. However, the specific topic of the formation (and of the fate) of the first objects dates to two decades later, when no objects with metallicities as low as those predicted by primordial nucleosynthesis (Z {approx}< 10{sup -10} {approx} 10{sup -8}Z{sub {circle_dot}}) were found. Such concerns were addressed in two seminal papers by Peebles & Dicke (1968; hereafter PD68) and by Doroshkevich, Zel'Dovich & Novikov (1967; hereafter DZN67), introducing the idea that some objects could have formed before the stars we presently observe. (1) Both PD68 and DZN67 suggest a mass of {approx} 10{sup 5} M{sub {circle_dot}} for the first generation of bound systems, based on the considerations on the cosmological Jeans length (Gamow 1948; Peebles 1965) and the possible shape of the power spectrum. (2) They point out the role of thermal instabilities in the formation of the proto-galactic bound object, and of the cooling of the gas inside it; in particular, PD68 introduces H{sub 2} cooling and chemistry in the calculations about the contraction of the gas. (3) Even if they do not specifically address the occurrence of fragmentation, these papers make two very different assumptions: PD68 assumes that the gas will fragment into ''normal'' stars to form globular clusters, while DZN67 assumes that fragmentation does not occur, and that a single ''super-star'' forms. (4) Finally, some feedback effects as considered (e.g. Peebles & Dicke considered the effects of supernovae). Today most of the research focuses on the issues when fragmentation may occur, what objects are formed and how they influence subsequent structure formation. In these notes we will leave the discussion of feedback to lecture notes by Ferrara & Salvaterra and by Madau & Haardt in this same book and focus only on the aspects of the formation of the first objects. The advent of cosmological numerical hydrodynamics in particular allow a fresh new look at these questions. Hence, these notes will touch on aspects of theoretical cosmology to chemistry, computer science, hydrodynamics and atomic physics. For further reading and more references on the subject we refer the reader to other relevant reviews such as Barkana & Loeb 2001, and more recently Ciardi & Ferrara 2004, Glover 2004 and Bromm & Larson 2004. In these notes, we try to give a brief introduction to only the most relevant aspects. We will start with a brief overview of the relevant cosmological concepts in section 2, followed by a discussion of the properties of primordial material (with particular emphasis to its cooling and its chemistry) in section 3. We will then review the technique and the results of numerical simulations in sections 4 and 5: the former will deal with detailed 3D simulations of the formation of gaseous clouds which are likely to transform into luminous objects, while the latter will examine results (mostly from 1D codes) about the modalities of such transformation. Finally, in section 6 we will critically discuss the results of the previous sections, examining their consequences and comparing them to our present knowledge of the universe.

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51 pages

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  • Lectures given at 5th SIGRAV Graduate School in Contemporary Relativity and Gravitational Physics on Joint Evolution of Black Holes and Galaxies, Villa Olmo, Como, Italy, 5-10 May 2003

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  • Report No.: SLAC-PUB-11384
  • Grant Number: AC02-76SF00515
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 878836
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc877212

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  • August 4, 2005

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 28, 2016, 6:01 p.m.

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Ripamonti, Emanuele; /Kapteyn Astron. Inst., Groningen; Abel, Tom & /KIPAC, Menlo Park. The Formation of Primordial Luminous Objects, article, August 4, 2005; [Menlo Park, California]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc877212/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.