Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Heavy black hole seed formation in high-z atomic cooling halos

Prole, Lewis R., Regan, John A., Glover, Simon C. O., Klessen, Ralf S., Priestley, Felix D. and Clark, Paul C. ORCID: 2024. Heavy black hole seed formation in high-z atomic cooling halos. Astronomy & Astrophysics 685 , A31. 10.1051/0004-6361/202348903

[thumbnail of Published.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (9MB) | Preview


Context. Halos with masses in excess of the atomic limit are believed to be ideal environments in which to form heavy black hole seeds with masses above 103 M⊙. In cases where the H2 fraction is suppressed, this is expected to lead to reduced fragmentation of the gas and the generation of a top-heavy initial mass function. In extreme cases this can result in the formation of massive black hole seeds. Resolving the initial fragmentation scale and the resulting protostellar masses has, until now, not been robustly tested. Aims. We run zoom-in simulations of atomically cooled halos in which the formation of H2 is suppressed to assess whether they can truly resist fragmentation at high densities and tilt the initial mass function towards a more top-heavy form and the formation of massive black hole seeds. Methods. Cosmological simulations were performed with the moving mesh code AREPO, using a primordial chemistry network until z ∼ 11. Three haloes with masses in excess of the atomic cooling mass were then selected for detailed examination via zoom-ins. A series of zoom-in simulations, with varying levels of maximum spatial resolution, captured the resulting fragmentation and formation of metal-free stars using the sink particle technique. The highest resolution simulations resolved densities up to 10−6 g cm−3 (1018 cm−3) and captured a further 100 yr of fragmentation behaviour at the centre of the halo. Lower resolution simulations were then used to model the future accretion behaviour of the sinks over longer timescales. Results. Our simulations show intense fragmentation in the central region of the halos, leading to a large number of near-solar mass protostars. Even in the presence of a super-critical Lyman-Werner radiation field (JLW > 105J21), H2 continues to form within the inner ∼2000 au of the halo. Despite the increased fragmentation, the halos produce a protostellar mass spectrum that peaks at higher masses relative to standard Population III star-forming halos. The most massive protostars have accretion rates of 10−3–10−1 M⊙ yr−1 after the first 100 years of evolution, while the total mass of the central region grows at 1 M⊙ yr−1. Lower resolution zoom-ins show that the total mass of the system continues to accrete at ∼1 M⊙ yr−1 for at least 104 yr, although how this mass is distributed amongst the rapidly growing number of protostars is unclear. However, assuming that a fraction of stars can continue to accrete rapidly, the formation of a sub-population of stars with masses in excess of 103 M⊙ is likely in these halos. In the most optimistic case, we predict the formation of heavy black hole seeds with masses in excess of 104 M⊙, assuming an accretion behaviour in line with expectations from super-competitive accretion and/or frequent mergers with secondary protostars.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: EDP Sciences
ISSN: 0004-6361
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 May 2024
Date of Acceptance: 15 February 2024
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 11:00

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics