The role of radiation and halo mergers in Pop III star formation

Lilia Correa Magnus, Britton D Smith, Sadegh Khochfar, Brian W O’Shea, John H Wise, Michael L Norman, Matthew J Turk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a study of the co-evolution of a population of primordial star-forming minihaloes at Cosmic Dawn. In this study, we highlight the influence of individual Population III stars on the ability of nearby minihaloes to form sufficient molecular hydrogen to undergo star formation. In the absence of radiation, we find the minimum halo mass required to bring about collapse to be ∼10 5 M , this increases to ∼10 6 M after two stars have formed. We find an inverse relationship between halo mass and the time required for it to recover its molecular gas after being disrupted by radiation from a nearby star. We also take advantage of the extremely high resolution to investigate the effects of major and minor mergers on the gas content of star-forming minihaloes. Contrary to previous claims of fallback of supernova ejecta, we find minihaloes evacuated after hosting Pop III stars primarily recover gas through mergers with undisturbed haloes. We identify an intriguing type of major merger between recently evacuated haloes and gas-rich ones, finding that these ‘mixed’ mergers accelerate star formation instead of suppressing it like their low-redshift counterparts. We attribute this to the gas-poor nature of one of the merging haloes resulting in no significant rise in temperature or turbulence and instead inducing a rapid increase in central density and hydrostatic pressure. This constitutes a novel formation pathway for Pop III stars and establishes major mergers as potentially the primary source of gas, thus redefining the role of major mergers at this epoch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberstad3167
Pages (from-to)307-320
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online dateOct 17 2023
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • stars: Population III
  • early Universe
  • galaxies: high redshift
  • galaxies: star formation


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