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The first stellar cluster

Clark, Paul ORCID:, Glover, Simon C. O. and Klessen, Ralf S. 2008. The first stellar cluster. Astrophysical Journal 672 (2) , pp. 757-764. 10.1086/524187

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We report results from numerical simulations of star formation in the early universe that focus on gas at very high densities and very low metallicities. We argue that the gas in the central regions of protogalactic halos will fragment as long as it carries sufficient angular momentum. Rotation leads to the build-up of massive disklike structures which fragment to form protostars. At metallicities Z ≈ 10−5 Z☉, dust cooling becomes effective and leads to a sudden drop of temperature at densities above n = 1012 cm−3. This induces vigorous fragmentation, leading to a very densely packed cluster of low-mass stars. This is the first stellar cluster. The mass function of stars peaks below 1 M☉, similar to what is found in the solar neighborhood and comparable to the masses of the very low metallicity subgiant stars recently discovered in the halo of our Milky Way. We find that even purely primordial gas can fragment at densities 1014 cm −3 ≤ n≤ 1016 cm −3, although the resulting mass function contains only a few objects (at least a factor of 10 fewer than the Z = 10−5 Z☉ mass function) and is biased toward higher masses. A similar result is found for gas with Z = 10−6 Z☉. Gas with Z ≤ 10−6 Z☉ behaves roughly isothermally at these densities (with polytropic exponent γ ≈ 1.06), and the massive disklike structures that form due to angular momentum conservation will be marginally unstable. As fragmentation is less efficient, we expect stars with Z ≤ 10−6 Z☉ to be massive, with masses in excess of several tens of solar masses, consistent with the results from previous studies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Publisher: IOP Science
ISSN: 0004-637X
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 09:45

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