Star Formation at the Twilight of the Dark Ages: Which Stars Reionized the Universe?
We calculate the global star formation rate density (SFRD) from z ~ 30-3 using a semi-analytic model incorporating the hierarchical assembly of dark matter halos, gas cooling via atomic hydrogen, star formation, supernova feedback, and suppression of gas collapse in small halos due to the presence of a photoionizing background. We compare the results with the predictions of simpler models based on the rate of dark matter halo growth and a fixed ratio of stellar-to-dark mass, and with
... and with observational constraints on the SFRD at 3 < z < 6. We also estimate the star formation rate due to very massive, metal-free Pop III stars using a simple model based on the halo formation rate, calibrated against detailed hydrodynamic simulations of Pop III star formation. We find that the total production rate of hydrogen-ionizing photons during the probable epoch of reionization (15 < z < 20) is approximately equally divided between Pop II and Pop III stars, and that if reionization is late (less than about 15, close to the lower limit of the range allowed by the WMAP results), then Pop II stars alone may be able to reionize the Universe.