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Lighting the universe with filaments.

Gao, L. and Theuns, Tom (2007) 'Lighting the universe with filaments.', Science., 317 (5844). pp. 1527-1530.


The first stars in the universe form when chemically pristine gas heats as it falls into dark-matter potential wells, cools radiatively because of the formation of molecular hydrogen, and becomes self-gravitating. Using supercomputer simulations, we demonstrated that the stars' properties depend critically on the currently unknown nature of the dark matter. If the dark-matter particles have intrinsic velocities that wipe out small-scale structure, then the first stars form in filaments with lengths on the order of the free-streaming scale, which can be 1020 meters (3 kiloparsecs, corresponding to a baryonic mass of 107 solar masses) for realistic "warm dark matter" candidates. Fragmentation of the filaments forms stars with a range of masses, which may explain the observed peculiar element abundance pattern of extremely metal-poor stars, whereas coalescence of fragments and stars during the filament's ultimate collapse may seed the supermassive black holes that lurk in the centers of most massive galaxies.

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Record Created:28 May 2008
Last Modified:02 Jun 2015 17:55

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