Old Metals, New Stars

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Science  06 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5489, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5489.13b

After the Big Bang, the universe may have been populated by supermassive stars; these hypothetical population III stars are possible progenitors for population II stars, which are old red stars found in galaxies today and are rich in elements heavier than helium. There is keen interest in understanding how star formation and stellar distribution may have progressed from the meager beginnings of a few stars to the luminous tapestry of billions of stars in clusters and galaxies.

Nakasato and Shigeyama use a three dimensional hydrodynamic model to investigate the formation of population II stars. Starting with a heterogeneous interstellar medium (ISM), they exploded a 20 solar mass supernova and modeled the distribution of metallic elements added by the supernova remnant. They found that the filaments of the ISM became enriched in metals and that population II stars born in these regions would contain the appropriate abundance of heavier elements. Thus, this model and subsequent numerical investigations may provide a glimpse of the proto-stellar framework from which the next generation of stars and galaxies formed. — LR

Astrophys. J.541, L59 (2000).

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