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The inhomogeneous reionization of the local intergalactic medium by metal-poor globular clusters
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Astronomy. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC).
2013 (English)In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, ISSN 0035-8711, E-ISSN 1365-2966, Vol. 431, no 4, 3087-3102 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present detailed radiative transfer simulations of the reionization of the Milky Way by metal-poor globular clusters. We identify potential metal-poor globular cluster candidates within the Aquarius simulation using dark matter halo velocity dispersions. We calculate the local ionization fields via a photon-conserving, three dimensional non-equilibrium chemistry code. The key feature of the model is that globular cluster formation is suppressed if the local gas is ionized. We assume that at these early times, the ionization field is dominated by the flux from metal-poor globular clusters. Our spatial treatment of the ionization field leads to drastically different numbers and spatial distributions when compared to models where globular cluster formation is simply truncated at early redshifts (z similar to 13). The spatial distributions are more extended and more globular clusters are produced. We find that additional sources of ionization are required at later epochs (z similar to 10) to ionize the remaining gas and recover radial distributions statistically consistent with that of the Milky Way metal-poor globular clusters. We investigate a range of plausible ionization efficiencies to determine the effect photon-rich and photon-poor models have on present-day globular cluster properties. If globular clusters do indeed form within high-redshift dark matter haloes, they produce enough photons to ionize 98 and 90 per cent local (i.e. 2(3) h(-3) Mpc(3) centred on the host galaxy) volume and mass by redshift 10, respectively. In our photon-poorest model, this contribution drops to 60 and 50 per cent. Our model therefore implies that globular clusters are important contributors to the reionization process on local scales at high-redshift until more photon-rich sources dominate the photon budget at later times. The surviving clusters in all models have a narrow average age range (mean = 13.34 Gyr, sigma = 0.04 Gyr) consistent with current age estimates of the Milky Way metal-poor globular clusters. We also test a simple dynamical destruction model and estimate that similar to 60 per cent of all metal-poor globular clusters formed at high redshift have since been destroyed via tidal interactions with the host galaxy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 431, no 4, 3087-3102 p.
Keyword [en]
galaxy: formation, globular clusters: general, intergalactic medium, cosmology: theory
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-91833DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt382ISI: 000319479000010OAI: diva2:635724


Available from: 2013-07-05 Created: 2013-07-04 Last updated: 2013-07-05Bibliographically approved

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Mellema, Garrelt
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Department of AstronomyThe Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC)
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