Title
Lighting the universe with filaments Lighting the universe with filaments
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Publication type
article
Publication
Washington, D.C. ,
Subject
Physics
Source (journal)
Science / American Association for the Advancement of Science. - Washington, D.C.
Volume/pages
317(2007) :5844 , p. 1527-1530
ISSN
0036-8075
1095-9203
ISI
000249467900035
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
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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