Thermal and fragmentation properties of star-forming clouds in low-metallicity environments

K. Omukai, T. Tsuribe, R. Schneider, A. Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The thermal and chemical evolution of star-forming clouds is studied for different gas metallicities, Z, using the model of Omukai, updated to include deuterium chemistry and the effects of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. HD-line cooling dominates the thermal balance of clouds when Z ∼ 10-5 to 10-3 Z⊙ and density ≈105 cm-3. Early on, CMB radiation prevents the gas temperature from falling below TCMB, although this hardly alters the cloud thermal evolution in low-metallicity gas. From the derived temperature evolution, we assess cloud/core fragmentation as a function of metallicity from linear perturbation theory, which requires that the core elongation = ε ≡(b -a) / a > εNL ∼ 1, where a (b) is the short (long) core axis length. The fragment mass is given by the thermal Jeans mass at ε = εNL. Given these assumptions and the initial (Gaussian) distribution of ε, we compute the fragment mass distribution as a function of metallicity. We find that (1) for Z = 0, all fragments are very massive, ≲103M⊙, consistent with previous studies; (2) for Z > 10-6 Z⊙ a few clumps go through an additional high-density (≳, 1010 cm-3) fragmentation phase driven by dust cooling, leading to low-mass fragments; (3) the mass fraction in low-mass fragments is initially very small, but at Z ∼ 10-5 Z⊙ it becomes dominant and continues to grow as Z is increased; (4) as a result of the two fragmentation modes, a bimodal mass distribution emerges in 0.01 < Z/Z⊙ < 0.1; and(5)for ≳0.1 Z ⊙, the two peaks merge into a single-peaked mass function, which might be regarded as the precursor of the ordinary Salpeter-like initial mass function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-627
Number of pages2
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume626
Issue number2 I
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jun 20

Keywords

  • Cosmology: theory
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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