The First Stars

Chapter
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 396)

Abstract

The first stars to form in the Universe—the so-called Population III stars—bring an end to the cosmological Dark Ages, and exert an important influence on the formation of subsequent generations of stars and on the assembly of the first galaxies. Developing an understanding of how and when the first Population III stars formed and what their properties were is an important goal of modern astrophysical research. In this review, I discuss our current understanding of the physical processes involved in the formation of Population III stars. I show how we can identify the mass scale of the first dark matter halos to host Population III star formation, and discuss how gas undergoes gravitational collapse within these halos, eventually reaching protostellar densities. I highlight some of the most important physical processes occurring during this collapse, and indicate the areas where our current understanding remains incomplete. Finally, I discuss in some detail the behaviour of the gas after the formation of the first Population III protostar. I discuss both the conventional picture, where the gas does not undergo further fragmentation and the final stellar mass is set by the interplay between protostellar accretion and protostellar feedback, and also the recently advanced picture in which the gas does fragment and where dynamical interactions between fragments have an important influence on the final distribution of stellar masses.

Keywords

Dark Matter Star Formation Accretion Disk Accretion Rate Weakly Interact Massive Particle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank a large number of people with whom he has had interesting and informative discussions about the physics of Population III star formation, including T. Abel, V. Bromm, P. Clark, G. Dopcke, T. Greif, Z. Haiman, T. Hosokawa, R. Klessen, M. Norman, K. Omukai, B. O’Shea, D. Schleicher, B. Smith, R. Smith, A. Stacy, J. Tan, M. Turk, D. Whalen, and N. Yoshida. Special thanks also go to R. Smith and M. Turk for providing some of the data plotted in Fig. 3, and to P. Clark for his assistance with the production of Fig. 4. Financial support for this work was provided by the Baden-Württemberg-Stiftung via their program International Collaboration II (grant P-LS-SPII/18), from the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung via the ASTRONET project STAR FORMAT (grant 05A09VHA), and by a Frontier grant of Heidelberg University sponsored by the German Excellence Initiative.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Theoretische AstrophysikZentrum für Astronomie der Universität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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