- Girish Kulkarni
- Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie
- Barcelona, Spain
- Seminari DAM, seventh floor, Physics Faculty UB
Damped Ly-alpha absorbers (DLAs) can be used to measure gas-phase metallicities at large cosmological lookback times with high precision. Relative abundances can still be measured accurately deep into the reionization epoch (z > 6) using transitions redward of Ly-alpha. I will describe the chemical evolution of DLAs in a constrained model for evolution of galaxies and IGM that we use to determine the degree to which DLA abundance measurements can probe Population III enrichment. We find that if the critical metallicity of Population III to II transition is < 10^-4 Zsun, the cosmic Population III SFR is zero for z<8. Nevertheless, at high redshift (z ~ 6) Population III chemical signatures are retained in low-mass galaxies (halo mass < 10^9 Msun). This is because photoionization feedback suppresses star formation in these galaxies until relatively low redshift (z ~ 10), and the chemical record of early Population III star formation is retained. We model DLAs as these galaxies by assigning to them a mass-dependent H I absorption cross section and predict distribution of DLA abundance ratios. We find that these distributions are anchored towards abundance ratios set by Population II yields, but exhibit a tail that depends on the Population III IMF for z > 5. Thus, a sample of DLA abundance measurements at high redshift holds the promise to constrain Population III IMF. A sample of just 10 DLAs with relative abundances measured to an accuracy of 0.1 dex is sufficient to constrain the Population III IMF at 4-sigma. These constraints may prove stronger than other probes such as metal-poor stars and individual DLAs. Our results provide a global picture of the cosmic thermal, ionization, and chemical evolution, and can rule out certain Population III scenarios.
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