During 1944, Walter Baade categorized groups of stars within the Milky Way into stellar populations. In the abstract of the article by Baade, he recognizes that Jan Oort originally conceived this type of classification in 1926: "[...] The two types of stellar populations had been recognized among the stars of our own galaxy by Oort as early as 1926". Baade noticed that bluer stars were strongly associated with the spiral arms and yellow stars dominated near the central galactic bulge and within globular star clusters. Two main divisions were defined as Population I and Population II, with another newer division called Population III added in 1978, which are often simply abbreviated as Pop I, II or III.
Between the population types, significant differences were found with their individual observed stellar spectra. These were later shown to be very important, and were possibly related to star formation, observed kinematics, stellar age, and even galaxy evolution in both spiral or elliptical galaxies. These three simple population classes usefully divided stars by their chemical composition or metallicity.
By definition, each population group shows the trend where decreasing metal content indicates increasing age of stars. Hence, the first stars in the universe (very low metal content) were deemed Population III, old stars (low metallicity) as Population II, and recent stars (high metallicity) as Population I. The Sun is considered population I, a recent star with a relatively high 1.4 percent metallicity. Note that astrophysics nomenclature considers any element heavier than helium to be a "metal", including chemical non-metals such as oxygen.
Observation of stellar spectra has revealed that stars older than the Sun have fewer heavy elements compared to the Sun. This immediately suggests that metallicity has evolved through the generations of stars by the process of stellar evolution.
Formation of the first starsEdit
Under current cosmological models, all matter created in the Big Bang was mostly hydrogen (75%) and helium (25%), with only a very tiny fraction consisting of other light elements. e.g. lithium and beryllium. When the universe had cooled sufficiently, the first stars were born as Population III stars without any contaminating heavier metals. This is postulated to have affected their structure so that their stellar masses became hundreds of times more than that of the Sun. In turn, these massive stars also evolved very quickly, and their nucleosynthetic processes created the first 26 elements (up to iron in the periodic table).
Many theoretical stellar models show that most high-mass Population III stars rapidly exhausted their fuel and likely exploded in extremely energetic pair-instability supernovae. Those explosions would have thoroughly dispersed their material, ejecting metals into the interstellar medium (ISM), to be incorporated into the later generations of stars. Their destruction suggests that no galactic high-mass Population III stars should be observable. However, some Population III stars might be seen in high-redshift galaxies whose light originated during the earlier history of the universe. None have been discovered, however, scientists have found evidence of an extremely small ultra metal-poor star, slightly smaller than the Sun, found in a binary system of the spiral arms in the Milky Way. The discovery opens up the possibility of observing even older stars.
Stars too massive to produce pair-instability supernovae would have likely collapsed into black holes through a process known as photodisintegration. Here some matter may have escaped during this process in the form of relativistic jets, and this could have distributed the first metals into the universe.[a]
Formation of the observable starsEdit
The oldest observed stars, known as Population II, have very low metallicities; as subsequent generations of stars were born they became more metal-enriched, as the gaseous clouds from which they formed received the metal-rich dust manufactured by previous generations. As those stars died, they returned metal-enriched material to the interstellar medium via planetary nebulae and supernovae, enriching further the nebulae out of which the newer stars formed. These youngest stars, including the Sun, therefore have the highest metal content, and are known as Population I stars.
Chemical classification by BaadeEdit
Population I starsEdit
Population I, or metal-rich, stars are young stars with the highest metallicity out of all three populations, and are more commonly found in the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. The Earth's Sun is an example of a metal-rich star and is considered as an intermediate Population I star, while the solar-like Mu Arae is much richer in metals.
Population I stars usually have regular elliptical orbits of the galactic centre, with a low relative velocity. It was earlier hypothesized that the high metallicity of Population I stars makes them more likely to possess planetary systems than the other two populations, because planets, particularly terrestrial planets, are thought to be formed by the accretion of metals. However, observations of the Kepler data-set have found smaller planets around stars with a range of metallicities, while only larger, potential gas giant planets are concentrated around stars with relatively higher metallicity — a finding that has implications for theories of gas giant formation. Between the intermediate Population I and the Population II stars comes the intermediary disc population.
Population II starsEdit
Population II, or metal-poor, stars are those with relatively little metal. These objects were formed during an earlier time of the universe. Intermediate Population I stars are common in the bulge near the centre of our galaxy, whereas Population II stars found in the galactic halo are older and thus more metal-poor. Globular clusters also contain high numbers of population II stars.
A characteristic of Population II stars is that despite their lower overall metallicity, they often have a higher ratio of alpha elements (O, Si, Ne, etc.) relative to Fe as compared to Population I stars; current theory suggests this is the result of Type II supernovae being more important contributors to the interstellar medium at the time of their formation, whereas Type Ia supernova metal enrichment came later in the universe's evolution.
Scientists have targeted these oldest stars in several different surveys, including the HK objective-prism survey of Timothy C. Beers et al. and the Hamburg-ESO survey of Norbert Christlieb et al., originally started for faint quasars. Thus far, they have uncovered and studied in detail about ten ultra metal poor (UMP) stars (such as Sneden's Star, Cayrel's Star, BD +17° 3248) and three of the oldest stars known to date: HE0107-5240, HE1327-2326 and HE 1523-0901. Caffau's star was identified as the most metal-poor star yet when it was found in 2012 using Sloan Digital Sky Survey data. However, in February 2014 the discovery of an even lower metallicity star was announced, SMSS J031300.36-670839.3 located with the aid of SkyMapper astronomical survey data. Less extreme in their metal deficiency, but nearer and brighter and hence longer known, are HD 122563 (a red giant) and HD 140283 (a subgiant).
Population III starsEdit
Population III stars are a hypothetical population of extremely massive, luminous and hot stars with virtually no metals, except possibly for intermixing ejecta from other nearby Population III supernovae. Such stars are likely to have existed in the very early universe (i.e., at high redshift), and may have started the production of chemical elements heavier than hydrogen that are needed for the later formation of planets and life as we know it.
The existence of Population III stars is inferred from physical cosmology, but they have not yet been observed directly. Indirect evidence for their existence has been found in a gravitationally lensed galaxy in a very distant part of the universe. Their existence may account for the fact that heavy elements – which could not have been created in the Big Bang – are observed in quasar emission spectra. They are also thought to be components of faint blue galaxies. These stars likely triggered the universe's period of reionization, a major phase transition of gases leading to the opacity observed today. Observations of the galaxy UDFy-38135539 suggest it may have played a role in this reionization process. The European Southern Observatory discovered a bright pocket of early population stars in the very bright galaxy Cosmos Redshift 7 from the reionization period around 800 million years after the Big Bang. The rest of the galaxy has some later redder Population II stars. Some theories hold that there were two generations of Population III stars.
Current theory is divided on whether the first stars were very massive or not; theories proposed in 2009 and 2011 suggest the first star groups might have consisted of a massive star surrounded by several smaller stars. The smaller stars, if they remained in the birth cluster, would accumulate more gas and could not survive to the present day, but a 2017 study concluded that if a star of 0.8 solar masses or less was ejected from its birth cluster before it accumulated more mass, it could survive to the present day, possibly even in our Milky Way galaxy.
One proposal, developed by computer models of star formation, is that with no heavy elements and a much warmer interstellar medium from the Big Bang, it was easy to form stars with much greater total mass than the stars commonly visible today. Typical masses for Population III stars are expected to be about several hundred solar masses, which is much larger than that of current stars. Models place the maximum mass of a Population III star to ~1000 solar masses. Analysis of data of extremely low-metallicity Population II stars such as HE0107-5240, which are thought to contain the metals produced by Population III stars, suggest that these metal-free stars had masses of 20 to 130 solar masses. On the other hand, analysis of globular clusters associated with elliptical galaxies suggests pair-instability supernovae, which are typically associated with very massive stars, were responsible for their metallic composition. This also explains why there have been no low-mass stars with zero metallicity observed, although models have been constructed for smaller Pop III stars. Clusters containing zero-metallicity red dwarfs or brown dwarfs (possibly created by pair-instability supernovae) have been proposed as dark matter candidates, but searches for these types of MACHOs through gravitational microlensing have produced negative results.
Detection of Population III stars is a goal of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. New spectroscopic surveys, such as SEGUE or SDSS-II, may also locate Pop III stars. Stars observed in the Cosmos Redshift 7 galaxy at z = 6.60 may be Population III stars.
- Gibson, B.K.; et al. (2013). "Review: Galactic Chemical Evolution" (PDF). Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- Ferris, Timothy (1988). Coming of Age in the Milky Way. William Morrow & Co. p. 512. ISBN 978-0-688-05889-0.
- Rudolf Kippenhahn (1993). 100 Billion Suns: The Birth, Life, and Death of the Stars. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-08781-8.
- It has been proposed that recent supernovae SN 2006gy and SN 2007bi may have been pair-instability supernovae where such super-massive Population III stars exploded. It has been speculated that these stars could have formed relatively recently in dwarf galaxies containing primordial metal-free interstellar matter; past supernovae in these galaxies could have ejected their metal-rich contents at speeds high enough for them to escape the galaxy, keeping the metal content of the galaxy very low.
- W. Baade (1944), "The Resolution of Messier 32, NGC 205, and the Central Region of the Andromeda Nebula", Astrophysical Journal, 100: 137–146, Bibcode:1944ApJ...100..137B, doi:10.1086/144650
- Shapley, Harlow (1977). Hodge, Paul (ed.). Galaxies (3 ed.). Harvard University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0674340510.
- Trager, S. C.; Faber, S. M.; Dressler, A. (2008). "The stellar population histories of early-type galaxies – III. The Coma cluster". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 386 (2): 715–747. arXiv:0803.0464. Bibcode:2008MNRAS.386..715T. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13132.x.
- Gibson, B. K.; Fenner, Y.; Renda, A.; Kawata, D.; Hyun-chul, L. (2013). "Review: Galactic Chemical Evolution" (PDF). Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. CSIRO publishing. 20 (4): 401–415. arXiv:astro-ph/0312255. Bibcode:2003PASA...20..401G. doi:10.1071/AS03052. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- D. Kunth & G. Östlin (2000). "The Most Metal-poor Galaxies". 10 (1). The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review. Retrieved 3 February 2015. Cite journal requires
- Lauren J. Bryant. "What Makes Stars Tick". Indiana University Research & Creative Activity. Retrieved September 7, 2005.
- Cyburt, Richard H.; Fields, Brian D.; Olive, Keith A.; Yeh, Tsung-Han (2016). "Big bang nucleosynthesis: Present status". Reviews of Modern Physics. 88 (1): 015004. arXiv:1505.01076. Bibcode:2016RvMP...88a5004C. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.88.015004.
- Heger, A.; Woosley, S. E. (2002). "The Nucleosynthetic Signature of Population III". Astrophysical Journal. 567 (1): 532–543. arXiv:astro-ph/0107037. Bibcode:2002ApJ...567..532H. doi:10.1086/338487.
- Schlaufman, Kevin C.; Thompson, Ian B.; Casey, Andrew R. (2018). "An Ultra Metal-poor Star Near the Hydrogen-burning Limit". The Astrophysical Journal. 867 (2): 98. arXiv:1811.00549. Bibcode:2018ApJ...867...98S. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aadd97.
- Hao Xu; John H. Wise; Michael L. Norman (29 July 2013). "Population III Stars and Remnants in High-Redshift Galaxies". The American Astronomical Society. 773 (2).
- "One of Milky Way's Oldest Stars Discovered". Sci-News. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
- Fryer, C.L.; Woosley, S.E.; Heger, A. (2001). "Pair-Instability Supernovae, Gravity Waves, and Gamma-Ray Transients". The Astrophysical Journal. 550 (1): 372–382. arXiv:astro-ph/0007176. Bibcode:2001ApJ...550..372F. doi:10.1086/319719.
- Heger, A.; Fryer, C.L.; Woosley, S.E.; Langer, N.; Hartmann, D.H. (2003). "How massive single stars end their life [sic]". The Astrophysical Journal. 591 (1): 288–300. arXiv:astro-ph/0212469. Bibcode:2003ApJ...591..288H. doi:10.1086/375341.
- Clark, Stuart (February 2010). "Primordial giant: The star that time forgot". New Scientist. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Salvaterra, R.; Ferrara, A.; Schneider, R. (2004). "Induced formation of primordial low-mass stars". New Astronomy. 10 (2): 113–120. arXiv:astro-ph/0304074. Bibcode:2004NewA...10..113S. doi:10.1016/j.newast.2004.06.003.
- Soriano, M.S.; Vauclair, S. (2009). "New seismic analysis of the exoplanet-host star Mu Arae". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 513: A49. arXiv:0903.5475. Bibcode:2010A&A...513A..49S. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200911862.
- Charles H. Lineweaver (2000). "An Estimate of the Age Distribution of Terrestrial Planets in the Universe: Quantifying Metallicity as a Selection Effect". Icarus. 151 (2): 307–313. arXiv:astro-ph/0012399. Bibcode:2001Icar..151..307L. doi:10.1006/icar.2001.6607.
- Buchhave, L.A.; et al. (2012). "An abundance of small exoplanets around stars with a wide range of metallicities". Nature. 486 (7403): 375–377. Bibcode:2012Natur.486..375B. doi:10.1038/nature11121. PMID 22722196.
- T. S. van Albada; Norman Baker (1973). "On the Two Oosterhoff Groups of Globular Clusters". Astrophysical Journal. 185: 477–498. Bibcode:1973ApJ...185..477V. doi:10.1086/152434.
- Wolfe, Arthur M.; Gawiser, Eric; Prochaska, Jason X. (2005). "DAMPED LYα SYSTEMS". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 43 (1): 861–918. arXiv:astro-ph/0509481. Bibcode:2005ARA&A..43..861W. doi:10.1146/annurev.astro.42.053102.133950.
- Tominga, N.; et al. (2007). "Supernova nucleosynthesis in population III 13-50 Msolar stars and abundance patterns of extremely metal-poor stars". Astrophysical Journal. 660 (5): 516–540. arXiv:astro-ph/0701381. Bibcode:2007ApJ...660..516T. doi:10.1086/513063.
- Sobral, David; Matthee, Jorryt; Darvish, Behnam; Schaerer, Daniel; Mobasher, Bahram; Röttgering, Huub J. A.; Santos, Sérgio; Hemmati, Shoubaneh (4 June 2015). "Evidence for Pop III-like stellar populations in the most luminous Lyman-α emitters at the epoch of re-ionisation: Spectroscopic confirmation". The Astrophysical Journal. 808 (2): 139. arXiv:1504.01734. Bibcode:2015ApJ...808..139S. doi:10.1088/0004-637x/808/2/139.
- Overbye, Dennis (17 June 2015). "Astronomers report finding earliest stars that enriched the cosmos". New York Times. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- R. A. E. Fosbury; et al. (2003). "Massive star formation in a gravitationally lensed H II galaxy at z = 3.357". Astrophysical Journal. 596 (1): 797–809. arXiv:astro-ph/0307162. Bibcode:2003ApJ...596..797F. doi:10.1086/378228.
- "Best observational evidence of first-generation stars in the universe". ESO Astronomy magazine. 17 June 2015.
- Bromm, V.; Yoshida, N.; Hernquist, L.; McKee, C.F. (2009). "The formation of the first stars and galaxies". Nature. 459 (7243): 49–54. arXiv:0905.0929. Bibcode:2009Natur.459...49B. doi:10.1038/nature07990. PMID 19424148.
- Redd, Nola (February 2011). "The universe's first stars weren't loners after all". Space.com. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Andrea Thompson (January 2009). "How massive stars form: Simple solution found". Space.com. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Carr, Bernard J. "Cosmology, Population III".
- Dutta J, Sur S, Stacy A, Bagla JS (2017). "Can population III stars survive to the present day?". arXiv:1712.06912 [astro-ph.GA].
- Umeda, Hideyuki; Nomoto, Ken'Ichi (2003). "First-generation black-hole-forming supernovae and the metal abundance pattern of a very iron-poor star". Nature. 422 (6934): 871–873. arXiv:astro-ph/0301315. Bibcode:2003Natur.422..871U. doi:10.1038/nature01571. PMID 12712199.
- Puzia, Thomas H.; Kissler‐Patig, Markus; Goudfrooij, Paul (2006). "Extremely α‐Enriched Globular Clusters in Early‐Type Galaxies: A Step toward the Dawn of Stellar Populations?". The Astrophysical Journal. 648 (1): 383–388. arXiv:astro-ph/0605210. Bibcode:2006ApJ...648..383P. doi:10.1086/505679.
- Siess, Lionel; Livio, Mario; Lattanzio, John (2002). "Structure, Evolution, and Nucleosynthesis of Primordial Stars". The Astrophysical Journal. 570 (1): 329–343. arXiv:astro-ph/0201284. Bibcode:2002ApJ...570..329S. doi:10.1086/339733.
- Gibson, Carl H.; Nieuwenhuizen, Theo M.; Schild, Rudolph E. (2012). "Why are so many primitive stars observed in the Galaxy halo?". Journal of Cosmology. 22: 10163. arXiv:1206.0187. Bibcode:2013JCos...2210163G.
- Kerins, E. J. (1997). "Zero-metallicity very low mass stars as halo dark matter". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 322: 709. arXiv:astro-ph/9610070. Bibcode:1997A&A...322..709K.
- Sanchez-Salcedo, F. J. (1997). "On the stringent constraint on massive dark clusters in the galactic halo". Astrophysical Journal Letters. 487 (1). L61. Bibcode:1997ApJ...487L..61S. doi:10.1086/310873.
- Rydberg, C.-E.; Zackrisson, E.; Lundqvist, P.; Scott, P. (March 2013). "Detection of isolated Population III stars with the James Webb Space Telescope". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 429 (4): 3658–3664. arXiv:1206.0007. Bibcode:2013MNRAS.429.3658R. doi:10.1093/mnras/sts653.