The Formation of Population III Binaries from Cosmological Initial Conditions

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Science  31 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5940, pp. 601-605
DOI: 10.1126/science.1173540

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Genesis of Binary Stars

Numerical simulations of collapsing clouds of primordial gas indicate that the first luminous objects to form in the universe were isolated massive stars. Turk et al. (p. 601, published online 9 July) now show that it is possible for single primordial clouds to break up into two dense cores. Three-dimensional calculations, which follow the evolution of primordial gas (composed of hydrogen and helium, with traces of deuterium and lithium) and dark matter starting from realistic, cosmological initial conditions, suggest that these cores may evolve to form binary star systems.


Previous high-resolution cosmological simulations predicted that the first stars to appear in the early universe were very massive and formed in isolation. Here, we discuss a cosmological simulation in which the central 50 M (where M is the mass of the Sun) clump breaks up into two cores having a mass ratio of two to one, with one fragment collapsing to densities of 10−8 grams per cubic centimeter. The second fragment, at a distance of ~800 astronomical units, is also optically thick to its own cooling radiation from molecular hydrogen lines but is still able to cool via collision-induced emission. The two dense peaks will continue to accrete from the surrounding cold gas reservoir over a period of ~105 years and will likely form a binary star system.

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