Confined population III enrichment and the prospects for prompt second-generation star formation

Jeremy S. Ritter*, Chalence Safranek-Shrader, Orly Gnat, Miloš Milosavljević, Volker Bromm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


It is widely recognized that nucleosynthetic output of the first Population III supernovae was a catalyst defining the character of subsequent stellar generations. Most of the work on the earliest enrichment was carried out assuming that the first stars were extremely massive and that the associated supernovae were unusually energetic, enough to completely unbind the baryons in the host cosmic minihalo and disperse the synthesized metals into the intergalactic medium. Recent work, however, suggests that the first stars may in fact have been somewhat less massive, with a characteristic mass scale of a few tens of solar masses. We present a cosmological simulation following the transport of the metals synthesized in a Population III supernova assuming that it had an energy of 1051 erg, compatible with standard Type II supernovae. A young supernova remnant is inserted in the first star's relic H II region in the free expansion phase and is followed for 40 Myr employing adaptive mesh refinement and Lagrangian tracer particle techniques. The supernova remnant remains partially trapped within the minihalo, and the thin snowplow shell develops pronounced instability and fingering. Roughly half of the ejecta turn around and fall back toward the center of the halo, with 1% of the ejecta reaching the center in 30 kyr and 10% in 10 Myr. The average metallicity of the combined returning ejecta and the pristine filaments feeding into the halo center from the cosmic web is 0.001-0.01 Z , but the two remain unmixed until accreting onto the central hydrostatic core that is unresolved at the end of the simulation. We conclude that if Population III stars had less extreme masses, they promptly enriched the host minihalos with metals and triggered Population II star formation.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number56
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2012


  • ISM: structure
  • cosmology: theory
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: formation
  • hydrodynamics
  • stars: formation
  • supernovae: general


Dive into the research topics of 'Confined population III enrichment and the prospects for prompt second-generation star formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this