Published: Oct. 6, 2017

Authors: Jordan Mirocha, Richard H. Mebane, Steven R. Furlanetto, Krishma Singal, Donald Trinh

Abstract: We investigate the effects of Population III stars on the sky-averaged 21-cm background radiation, which traces the collective emission from all sources of ultraviolet and X-ray photons before reionization is complete. While UV photons from PopIII stars can in principle shift the onset of radiative coupling of the 21-cm transition -- and potentially reionization -- to early times, we find that the remnants of PopIII stars are likely to have a more discernible impact on the 21-cm signal than PopIII stars themselves. The X-rays from such sources preferentially heat the IGM at early times, which elongates the epoch of reheating and results in a more gradual transition from an absorption signal to emission. This gradual heating gives rise to broad, asymmetric wings in the absorption signal, which stand in contrast to the relatively sharp, symmetric signals that arise in models treating PopII sources only. A stronger signature of PopIII, in which the position of the absorption minimum becomes inconsistent with PopII-only models, requires extreme star-forming events that may not be physically plausible, lending further credence to predictions of relatively high frequency absorption troughs, ν min ∼100 MHz. As a result, though the trough location alone may not be enough to indicate the presence of PopIII, the asymmetric wings should arise even if only a few PopIII stars form in each halo before the transition to PopII star formation occurs, provided that the PopIII IMF is sufficiently top-heavy and at least some PopIII stars form in binaries.

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