skip to main content

Title: A window on first-stars models from studies of dwarf galaxies and galactic halo stars
Dwarf galaxies dominate the local universe by number and are predicted to be even more dominant at early times, with many having large star formation rates per unit mass. The cosmological role of dwarf galaxies in the metal enrichment and the reionization of the universe is an important but unresolved problem at present. Nearby low-mass galaxies are much more accessible observationally for detailed study and may be local analogs of the types of galaxies that hosted the first-light sources relevant for reionization. I will share recent results on UV studies of the escaping radiation from nearby low-mass starforming galaxies, as well as the tantalizing similarities in element abundance patterns between local dwarf galaxies and the latest data compilations on extremely metal-poor stars in galactic halos. I will highlight trends of interest in a variety of individual elements at values of [Fe/H] between -7 and -3, including alpha-elements, elements originating mostly in intermediate-mass stars, lithium, titanium, and r-process elements. These trends constrain not only models of the first stars and their supernovae, but provide a window into the physical conditions in early galaxies and when metal-free star formation may have ceased in the early universe.This work was supported by the University more » of San Francisco Faculty Development Fund, and NSF grant AST-1637339. We thank the Aspen Center for Physics, where some of this work was conducted, and which is supported by National Science Foundation grant PHY-1607611. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1637339
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10097665
Journal Name:
American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting
Volume:
232
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
114.04
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT Binary stars are abundant in nearby galaxies, but are typically unaccounted for in simulations of the high-redshift Universe. Stellar population synthesis models that include the effects of binary evolution result in greater relative abundances of ionizing photons that could significantly affect the ambient ionizing background during the epoch of hydrogen reionization, additionally leading to differences in galaxy gas content and star formation. We use hydrodynamic cosmological simulations including in situ multifrequency radiative transfer to evaluate the effects of a high binary fraction in reionization-era galaxies on traits of the early intergalactic medium and the abundance of H i and He ii ionizing photons. We further extend this to analyse the traits of enriched gas. In comparing metrics generated using a fiducial simulation assuming single stars with one incorporating a high binary fraction, we find that binary stars cause H i reionization to complete earlier and at an accelerated pace, while also increasing the abundances of high-ionization metals (C iv and Si iv) in simulated absorption spectra while reducing the abundance of low-ionization states (O i, Si ii, and C ii). However, through increased photoheating of galactic and circumgalactic gas, they simultaneously reduce the rate of star formation in low-mass galaxies, slowing the ongoing process of enrichment and suppressingmore »their own ionizing background. This potentially contributes to a slower He ii reionization process at $z\ge 5$, and further indicates that self-regulation of galaxies could be underestimated when neglecting binary stellar evolution.« less
  2. Abstract While most simulations of the epoch of reionization have focused on single-stellar populations in star-forming dwarf galaxies, products of binary evolution are expected to significantly contribute to emissions of hydrogen-ionizing photons. Among these products are stripped stars (or helium stars), which have their envelopes stripped from interactions with binary companions, leaving an exposed helium core. Previous work has suggested these stripped stars can dominate the Lyman Continuum (LyC) photon output of high-redshift, low-luminosity galaxies post-starburst. Other sources of hard radiation in the early universe include zero-metallicity Population iii stars, which may have similar spectral energy distribution (SED) properties to galaxies with radiation dominated by stripped-star emissions. Here, we use four metrics (the power-law exponent over wavelength intervals 240–500 Å, 600–900 Å, and 1200–2000 Å, and the ratio of total luminosity in FUV wavelengths to LyC wavelengths) to compare the SEDs of simulated galaxies with only single-stellar evolution, galaxies containing stripped stars, and galaxies containing Population iii stars, with four different initial mass functions (IMFs). We find that stripped stars significantly alter SEDs in the LyC range of galaxies at the epoch of reionization. SEDs in galaxies with stripped stars have lower power-law indices in the LyC range and lowermore »FUV to LyC luminosity ratios. These differences in SEDs are present at all considered luminosities ( M UV > − 15 , AB system), and are most pronounced for lower-luminosity galaxies. Intrinsic SEDs as well as those with interstellar medium absorption of galaxies with stripped stars and Population iii stars are found to be distinct for all tested Population iii IMFs.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Deciphering the distribution of metals throughout galaxies is fundamental in our understanding of galaxy evolution. Nearby, low-metallicity, star-forming dwarf galaxies, in particular, can offer detailed insight into the metal-dependent processes that may have occurred within galaxies in the early Universe. Here, we present VLT/MUSE observations of one such system, JKB 18, a blue diffuse dwarf galaxy with a metallicity of only 12 + log(O/H)=7.6 ± 0.2 (∼0.08 Z⊙). Using high spatial resolution integral-field spectroscopy of the entire system, we calculate chemical abundances for individual H ii regions using the direct method and derive oxygen abundance maps using strong-line metallicity diagnostics. With large-scale dispersions in O/H, N/H, and N/O of ∼0.5–0.6 dex and regions harbouring chemical abundances outside this 1σ distribution, we deem JKB 18 to be chemically inhomogeneous. We explore this finding in the context of other chemically inhomogeneous dwarf galaxies and conclude that neither the accretion of metal-poor gas, short mixing time-scales or self-enrichment from Wolf–Rayet stars are accountable. Using a galaxy-scale, multiphase, hydrodynamical simulation of a low-mass dwarf galaxy, we find that chemical inhomogeneities of this level may be attributable to the removal of gas via supernovae and the specific timing of the observations with respect to star formation activity. This study not only draws attentionmore »to the fact that dwarf galaxies can be chemically inhomogeneous, but also that the methods used in the assessment of this characteristic can be subject to bias.« less
  4. The escape of radiation from galaxies is a frontier cosmology problem with wide-ranging implications for reionization, galaxy evolution and detection strategies for high-redshift systems. Low- and intermediate-mass galaxies may have played a crucial role in reionization at early times, and by studying their analogues in the local universe, we can test models of radiation escape in galaxies that are more observationally accessible. We present here our cross-sectional analyses of the characteristics of low-redshift galaxies from surveys including KISSR, LARS, and two Green Pea galaxy samples through various computational and visualization techniques. Local systems with measured high (> 0.1) Lyman-alpha escape fractions tend to have high equivalent widths in H-alpha (EWHA) and low Lyman-alpha red-peak velocity. The KISSR systems contain a population, in appearance resembling "purple peas", with potentially steep UV slopes and high EWHA (please see accompanying poster by Olivieri Villalvazo et al. at this meeting). These might represent a population of local starforming galaxies that are more common than, e.g., Green Pea galaxies, that also have potentially high Lyman-alpha, and likely Lyman-continuum, escape. These galaxies could potentially test theoretical models and advance studies of the "first-light" galaxies anticipated from the James Webb Space Telescope through characterizing the underlying physicalmore »properties that contribute to radiation leakage. This work was supported by the University of San Francisco (USF) Faculty Development Fund, the USF Student Travel Fund, and by the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team through NSF grant AST-1637339.« less
  5. Context. The chemical enrichment in the interstellar medium (ISM) of galaxies is regulated by several physical processes: star birth and death, grain formation and destruction, and galactic inflows and outflows. Understanding such processes and their relative importance is essential to following galaxy evolution and the chemical enrichment through the cosmic epochs, and to interpreting current and future observations. Despite the importance of such topics, the contribution of different stellar sources to the chemical enrichment of galaxies, for example massive stars exploding as Type II supernovae (SNe) and low-mass stars, as well as the mechanisms driving the evolution of dust grains, such as for example grain growth in the ISM and destruction by SN shocks, remain controversial from both observational and theoretical viewpoints. Aims. In this work, we revise the current description of metal and dust evolution in the ISM of local low-metallicity dwarf galaxies and develop a new description of Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs) which are considered to be their high-redshift counterparts in terms of star formation, stellar mass, and metallicity. Our goal is to reproduce the observed properties of such galaxies, in particular (i) the peak in dust mass over total stellar mass (sMdust) observed within a few hundred millionmore »years; and (ii) the decrease in sMdust at a later time. Methods. We fitted spectral energy distribution of dwarf galaxies and LBGs with the “Code Investigating GALaxies Emission”, through which the total stellar mass, dust mass, and star formation rate are estimated. For some of the dwarf galaxies considered, the metal and gas content are available from the literature. We computed different prescriptions for metal and dust evolution in these systems (e.g. different initial mass functions for stars, dust condensation fractions, SN destruction, dust accretion in the ISM, and inflow and outflow efficiency), and we fitted the properties of the observed galaxies through the predictions of the models. Results. Only some combinations of models are able to reproduce the observed trend and simultaneously fit the observed properties of the galaxies considered. In particular, we show that (i) a top-heavy initial mass function that favours the formation of massive stars and a dust condensation fraction for Type II SNe of around 50% or more help to reproduce the peak of sMdust observed after ≈100 Myr from the beginning of the baryon cycle for both dwarf galaxies and LBGs; (ii) galactic outflows play a crucial role in reproducing the observed decline in sMdust with age and are more efficient than grain destruction from Type II SNe both in local galaxies and at high-redshift; (iii) a star formation efficiency (mass of gas converted into stars) of a few percent is required to explain the observed metallicity of local dwarf galaxies; and (iv) dust growth in the ISM is not necessary in order to reproduce the values of sMdust derived for the galaxies under study, and, if present, the effect of this process would be erased by galactic outflows.« less