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Rudrani Kar Chowdhury (University of Hong Kong)

Rudrani Kar Chowdhury Colloquium: Detecting last light from first stars

The Australia Telescope National Facility Colloquium
15:00-16:00 Wed 14 Feb 2024



First generation metal-free stars, referred to as population III (Pop III) stars, are believed to be the first objects to form out of the pristine gas in the very early Universe. Pop III stars have different structures from the current generation of stars and are important for generating heavy elements and shaping subsequent star formation. However, it is very challenging to directly detect Pop III stars given their high redshifts and short life-times. In this work, we propose a novel signature for detecting Pop III stars through their tidal disruption events (TDEs) by massive black holes. We model the emission properties and calculate the expected rates for these unique TDEs in the early Universe at z ~10. We find that Pop III star TDEs have much higher mass fallback rates compared to normal TDEs in the local universe and are therefore rather luminous, rendering them feasible for detection. They also have very long observed flare evolution timescale, making it more likely to detect such TDEs during their rising phase. We further demonstrate that a large fraction of the TDE emissions are redshifted to infrared wavelengths and can be detected by the James Webb Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Lastly, the TDE rate sensitively depends on the black hole mass function in the early Universe. We find a promising Pop III star TDE detection rate of up to a few tens per year using the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.


Nikhel Gupta

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