Protostellar Feedback Halts the Growth of the First Stars in the Universe

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  10 Nov 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207433


The first stars fundamentally transformed the early universe by emitting the first light and by producing the first heavy elements. These effects were predetermined by the mass distribution of the first stars, which is thought to have been fixed by a complex interplay of gas accretion and protostellar radiation. We performed radiation-hydrodynamics simulations that followed the growth of a primordial protostar through to the early stages as a star with thermonuclear burning. The circumstellar accretion disk was evaporated by ultraviolet radiation from the star when its mass was 43 times that of the Sun. Such massive primordial stars, in contrast to the often postulated extremely massive stars, may help explain the fact that there is no signatures of the pair-instability supernovae in abundance patterns of metal-poor stars in our galaxy.