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Title: On the Probability of the Extremely Lensed z = 6.2 Earendel Source Being a Population III Star
Abstract The recent discovery of the extremely lensed Earendel object at z = 6.2 is remarkable in that it is likely a single star or stellar multiple, observed within the first billion years of cosmic history. Depending on its mass, which is still uncertain but will soon be more tightly constrained with the James Webb Space Telescope, the Earendel star might even be a member of the first generation of stars, the so-called Population III (Pop III). By combining results from detailed cosmological simulations of the assembly of the first galaxies, including the enrichment of the pristine gas with heavy chemical elements, with assumptions on key stellar parameters, we quantify the probability that Earendel indeed has a Pop III origin. We find that this probability is nonnegligible throughout the mass range inferred for Earendel, specifically ranging from a few percent at the lower-mass end to near unity for some Pop III initial mass function (IMF) models toward the high-mass end of the allowed range. For models that extend the metal-enriched IMF to 500 M ⊙ , the likelihood of Earendel being a Pop III star stays at the few to 10% level. We discuss the implications of such a discovery more » for the overall endeavor to probe the hitherto so elusive first stars in the universe. « less
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Award ID(s):
2107724 2108962 1910346 1752913
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Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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