The contribution of globular clusters to cosmic reionization

Xiangcheng Ma, Eliot Quataert, Andrew Wetzel, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Michael Boylan-Kolchin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We study the escape fraction of ionizing photons (fesc) in two cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxies in the reionization era with halo mass Mhalo ∼1010 and $10{11}\, \mathrm{ M}-{\odot }$ (stellar mass M∗ ∼107 and $109\, \mathrm{ M}-{\odot }$) at z = 5 from the Feedback in Realistic Environments project. These simulations explicitly resolve the formation of proto-globular clusters (GCs) self-consistently, where 17-39 per cent of stars form in bound clusters during starbursts. Using post-processing Monte Carlo radiative transfer calculations of ionizing radiation, we compute fesc from cluster stars and non-cluster stars formed during a starburst over ∼100 Myr in each galaxy. We find that the averaged fesc over the lifetime of a star particle follows a similar distribution for cluster stars and non-cluster stars. Clusters tend to have low fesc in the first few Myr, presumably because they form preferentially in more extreme environments with high optical depths; the fesc increases later as feedback starts to destroy the natal cloud. On the other hand, some non-cluster stars formed between cluster complexes or in the compressed shells at the front of a superbubble can also have high fesc. We find that cluster stars on average have comparable fesc to non-cluster stars. This result is robust across several star formation models in our simulations. Our results suggest that the fraction of ionizing photons from proto-GCs to cosmic reionization is comparable to the cluster formation efficiencies in high-redshift galaxies and thus proto-GCs likely contribute an appreciable fraction of photons but are not the dominant sources for reionization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4062-4071
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume504
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • cosmology: Theory
  • dark ages
  • first stars
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • globular clusters: general
  • reionization

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The contribution of globular clusters to cosmic reionization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this