Possible Population III remnants at redshift 3.5

Neil H. M. Crighton, John M. O'Meara, Michael T. Murphy
2016 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters  
The first stars, known as Population III (PopIII), produced the first heavy elements, thereby enriching their surrounding pristine gas. Previous detections of metals in intergalactic gas clouds, however, find a heavy element enrichment larger than 1/1000 times that of the solar environment, higher than expected for PopIII remnants. In this letter we report the discovery of a Lyman limit system (LLS) at z=3.53 with the lowest metallicity seen in gas with discernable metals, 10^-3.41±0.26 times
more » ... e solar value, at a level expected for PopIII remnants. We make the first relative abundance measurement in such low metallicity gas: the carbon-to-silicon ratio is 10^-0.26±0.17 times the solar value. This is consistent with models of gas enrichment by a PopIII star formation event early in the Universe, but also consistent with later, Population II enrichment. The metals in all three components comprising the LLS, which has a velocity width of 400 km s^-1, are offset in velocity by ∼+6 km s^-1 from the bulk of the hydrogen, suggesting the LLS was enriched by a single event. Relative abundance measurements in this near-pristine regime open a new avenue for testing models of early gas enrichment and metal mixing.
doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slv191 fatcat:iqb4cdghyvd7xan6wdbwy23bey