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The effect of dust cooling on low-metallicity star-forming clouds

Dopcke, Gustavo, Glover, Simon C. O., Clark, Paul ORCID: and Klessen, Ralf S. 2011. The effect of dust cooling on low-metallicity star-forming clouds. Astrophysical Journal Letters 729 (1) , L3. 10.1088/2041-8205/729/1/L3

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The theory for the formation of the first population of stars (Pop. III) predicts an initial mass function (IMF) composed predominantly of high-mass stars, in contrast to the present-day IMF, which tends to yield stars with masses less than 1 M ☉. The leading theory for the transition in the characteristic stellar mass predicts that the cause is the extra cooling provided by increasing metallicity and in particular the cooling provided at high densities by dust. The aim of this work is to test whether dust cooling can lead to fragmentation and be responsible for this transition. To investigate this, we make use of high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations. We follow the thermodynamic evolution of the gas by solving the full thermal energy equation and also track the evolution of the dust temperature and the chemical evolution of the gas. We model clouds with different metallicities and determine the properties of the cloud at the point at which it undergoes gravitational fragmentation. We follow the further collapse to scales of an AU when we replace very dense, gravitationally bound, and collapsing regions by a simple and nongaseous object, a sink particle. Our results suggest that for metallicities as small as 10–5 Z ☉, dust cooling produces low-mass fragments and hence can potentially enable the formation of low-mass stars. We conclude that dust cooling affects the fragmentation of low-metallicity gas clouds and plays an important role in shaping the stellar IMF even at these very low metallicities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: early universe; hydrodynamics; methods: numerical; stars: formation; stars: luminosity function, mass function
Publisher: Institute of Physics
ISSN: 2041-8205
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 09:44

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